Current empirical research in neonatal bioethics

Authors

  • Cameron H Swinton,

    1. .Clinical Ethics, MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
    2. .Neonatology, Children’s Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA
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  • John D Lantos

    1. .Pediatrics, Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center, University of Missouri at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA
    2. .The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
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John D Lantos, MD, Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center, University of Missouri at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA.
Tel: +1-816-701-5283 |
Fax: +1-816-701-5286 |
Email: jlantos@cmh.edu

Abstract

Ethical dilemmas in neonatology can be analysed using both the theoretical tools of analytic philosophy and the empirical tools of clinical epidemiology and health services research. Both yield important insights into ways to think about the ethical issues that arise in clinical neonatology. In this paper, we review recent empirical research in neonatal bioethics. Studies published in the last 5 years shed light on issues that arise in prenatal consultation, prognostication, outcomes, quality-of-life and cost-effectiveness in neonatal intensive care. These studies show ways in which doctors vary in their decisions from country to country, hospital to hospital and for babies and children with different conditions but similar prognoses. Empirical research in bioethics can answer questions about what doctors and parents think and do. It does not answer questions about what they ought to do.

Conclusion:  Good ethics starts with good facts, even if good facts are not sufficient to get us to good ethics.

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