Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Exploration of an Ethical Quagmire: The Doctrine of Double-Effect in Neonatal Palliative Care

Version 1 : Received: 8 February 2021 / Approved: 10 February 2021 / Online: 10 February 2021 (15:38:55 CET)

How to cite: Kain, V.J.; Mendes, J. Exploration of an Ethical Quagmire: The Doctrine of Double-Effect in Neonatal Palliative Care. Preprints 2021, 2021020263 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0263.v1). Kain, V.J.; Mendes, J. Exploration of an Ethical Quagmire: The Doctrine of Double-Effect in Neonatal Palliative Care. Preprints 2021, 2021020263 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202102.0263.v1).

Abstract

Neonatal palliative care (NPC) is an integrated and holistic approach that is an integral part of the contemporary neonatal treatment delivery paradigm. It is the highest fulfillment of the notion of beneficence (doing or creating 'good') that has otherwise been neglected/underestimated by the focus of modern medicine on technology and instrumental treatments by its commitment to alleviating patient pain and quality of life. For decades, the Double-Effect Doctrine (DDE) has been used to consider and address a range of ethically questionable circumstances, often at the end of life, including euthanasia, termination of pregnancy to save maternal life, and morally justified warfare. The theory has continued to be mired in controversy as ethicists, legal scholars, theologians, and philosophers discuss the abstract concepts of moral reasoning, purpose, foresight, and other underlying moral theories. In this paper, the moral theory of DDE is discussed in its clinical application to the ethical decision-making process in neonatal palliative and end-of-life treatment, specifically 1) the administration of opioids as required for symptom control and 2) the use of palliative sedation for intractable symptom care.

Keywords

neonatal palliative care; Doctrine of Double Effect; perinatal palliative care; neonatal end-of-life care

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