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Pediatrics. 2011 Nov;128 Suppl 4:S149-54. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2720B.

Pediatric use of complementary and alternative medicine: legal, ethical, and clinical issues in decision-making.

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1
Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Abstract

In this article we introduce a series of 8 case scenarios and commentaries and explore the complex legal, ethical, and clinical concerns that arise when pediatric patients and their parents or health care providers use or are interested in using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). People around the world rely on CAM, so similar issues face clinicians in many countries. In law, few cases have dealt with CAM use. The few that have apply the same general legal principles used in cases that involved conventional care while taking into account considerations unique to CAM. In ethics, as with conventional care, the issues surrounding pediatric CAM use usually involve questions about who the appropriate decision-makers are, on what ethical principles should clinical decision-making rely, and what obligations arise on the part of physicians and other health care providers. Clinical decision-making is made more complex by the relatively limited research on the efficacy and safety of CAM compared with conventional medicine, especially in children, which requires clinicians to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty. The clinical scenarios presented focus on patients who represent a range of ages, clinical conditions, and settings. They act as anchors to explore particular CAM policy issues and illustrate the application of and shortcomings in existing guidance and intervention principles. Although the focus on a pediatric population adds another layer of complexity to the analysis, many of the concepts, issues, principles, and recommendations also apply to adults.

PMID:
22045856
DOI:
10.1542/peds.2010-2720B
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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