Death or Disability?: The 'Carmentis Machine' and Decision-Making for Critically Ill Children

ISBN : 9780198799054

Dominic Wilkinson
320 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2017
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In ancient Rome parents would consult the priestess Carmentis shortly after birth to obtain prophecies of the future of their newborn infant. Today, parents and doctors of critically ill children consult a different oracle. Neuroimaging provides a vision of the child's future, particularly of the nature and severity of any disability. Based on the results of brain scans and other tests doctors and parents face heart-breaking decisions about whether or not to continue intensive treatment or to allow the child to die. Paediatrician and ethicist Dominic Wilkinson looks at the profound and contentious ethical issues facing those who work in intensive care caring for critically ill children and infants. When should infants or children be allowed to die? How accurate are predictions of future quality of life? How much say should parents have in these decisions? How should they deal with uncertainty about the future? He combines philosophy, medicine and science to shed light on current and future dilemmas.


Prologue 1: The temple of Carmentis 30AD
Prologue 2: The Carmentis Machine: 2030 AD
Introduction: Neuroethics and intensive care

Section A
1: Destiny, disability, and death
2: Best interests and the Carmentis machine
3: Starting again
4: Competing interests

Section B
5: Sources of Uncertainty—prognostic research
6: Managing uncertainty
7: Interests and uncertainty
8: The Threshold framework

About the author: 

Dominic Wilkinson is Professor of Medical Ethics at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, research fellow at Jesus College, and a consultant neonatologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

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