Do Pediatric Patients Have a Right to Know?
In Western medicine, a central component of respecting a person's ability to make decisions governing what happens to herself is ensuring that she is provided with sufficient relevant information to make a rational choice. For patients who lack the cognitive capacity to do so because of either inborn or acquired deficits or because of youth, the extent to which they can participate in medical decisions is variable. Minors present a unique challenge, as their ability to understand and process information usually increases with age. The case presented here poses special problems because of the parents' desire to shield their child from certain information deemed important by his physicians. I consider whether minors, particularly older ones, have a right to know that supersedes their parents' wishes.
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