Pediatric Best Interests: absolute or prima facie?

Physicians’ medical decision-making is to be guided by patient best interests. It is the
foundational principle grounding the trust that is explicit within the fiduciary nature of the
physician/patient relationship. Best interests is meant to be viewed through the patient’s eyes,
and is guided by the experience and knowledge of the attending physician. At the beginning
of life, however, this becomes a problematic concept to practically apply. 


Here the patient is unable to participate with medical decision-making and as a result family members and physicians must share this responsibility. In the NICU and PICU we are often faced with interventions that have uncertain outcomes and survival may be gained at great potential cost in terms of quality of life. Families and physicians can struggle with the notion of best interests in these instances. Sometimes their assessments of best interests can differ. In this presentation I will provide an overview of best interests and its problematic nature in this patient population. What will follow I hope will be an interactive discussion with the audience about approaches to differing assessments of best interests and how these are best resolved. 


 Cheryl Mack, MD

Assistant Clinical Professor

Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine
University of Alberta 


                                                                       Available via Telehealth by contacting 780-492-6676 or or your local provider at least 2 business days prior to the event

Friday, 10 December 2010
Room 1J2.47 Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre

Here is the link to view the map location:


For more information please e-mail:

Please note the location change for our upcoming Health Ethics Seminar
New location: Room 1J2.47 Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre


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