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Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2014 Apr;28(2):293-302. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Mar 15.

Competence assessment in minors, illustrated by the case of bariatric surgery for morbidly obese children.

Author information

  • 1Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Ethics Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: l.bolt@erasmusmc.nl.
  • 2Department of General Paediatrics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands. Electronic address: m.j.h.vansummeren@umcutrecht.nl.

Abstract

Clinicians have to assess children's competence frequently. In order to do justice to children who are competent to make decisions and to protect incompetent children, valid assessment is essential. We address this issue by using bariatric surgery for morbidly obese minors as a case study. Our previous research indicated that opponents of bariatric surgery tend to be sceptical of the competence of adolescents to consent and inclined to set more stringent standards than proponents. Furthermore, there is the concern that minors wanting surgery are less able to make an autonomous decision than minors who do not wish to undergo surgery. Hence, few patients may be qualified as eligible. We argue for a risk-related standard, so that concerns are met, while at the same time preventing to set the bar too high, excluding paediatric patients who are most likely to benefit from surgery. This standard is also applicable in gastroenterology practice.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Bariatric surgery; Competence; Ethics; Informed consent; Paediatric obesity

PMID:
24810190
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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