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Parents As Decision-Makers — Do the Attitudes of Norwegian Doctors Conform to Law?

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image of European Journal of Health Law

This article studies whether the attitudes of Norwegian doctors regarding surrogate decision power in end-of-life care conform to legal rules, particularly as they apply to the protection of children. The article is based on a hypothetical scenario concerning a critically ill child, believed to be dying, presented to 406 doctors. The study indicates that doctors may permit parental/surrogate decision-making to a greater extent than justified by law, sometimes in contravention of the child’s best interests, which should be a fundamental guideline in all decisions that concern children. This article suggests a need to improve knowledge of doctors concerning parents’/surrogates’ right to participate in life-or-death decisions. We conclude that Norway needs a precedent decision from the Supreme Court that confirms the right of judicial review of end-of-life decisions, and which applies the principle of the child’s best interests as a fundamental guideline in the final decision.


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