Medical ethics for children: applying the four principles to paediatrics
- Dr P Baines, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital, Eaton Rd, Liverpool L12 2AP, UK;
- Received 21 July 2006
- Revised 20 November 2006
- Accepted 21 November 2006
I will argue that there are difficulties with the application of the four principles approach to incompetent children. The most important principle – respect for autonomy – is not directly applicable to incompetent children and the most appropriate modification of the principle for them is not clear. The principle of beneficence – that one should act in the child’s interests – is complicated by difficulties in assessing what a child’s interests are and to which standard of interests those choosing for children should be held. A further problem with the four principles approach is that parental authority does not follow clearly from the four principles.
Competing interests: None.