This past weekend, one of my coworkers and I were discussing the difficulties that are faced in the NICU in regard to medical ethics. We have chosen to work in a field where we witness miracles on a daily basis, but we also see the sad side of life & death in the NICU. With modern advances in medicine and science, we have seen more and more babies saved than ever before. But with this, we are also seeing a much younger (gestational age) and sicker population. This creates a difficult situation for health care providers and for families.
Where are the lines between viability and non-viability? How does one make such a decision? When has medicine gone too far? When does it not go far enough?
These are deep discussion topics, I know, but as NICU staff and parents...they are a reality. I started reading a book on the topic this week and found this quote interesting: "The babies in the NICU make a claim on our humanity but also challenge the limits of it."* I'm anxious to finish the book...I'll let you know how it goes.
Have you ever thought about these questions or others like them?
Share your thoughts with us or shoot me an email.
Julie Hudson, MSN, RN
*Lantos, John D. (2001). The Lazarus Case: life-and-death issues in neonatal intensive care. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, p. 28