This paper will focus on the two different sides of adolescents and their choice concerning end of life care. The first section will be adolescent centered and will help to provide a backbone to reinforce the choices they legally should be able to make using their right to autonomy. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine did a very helpful study, that is pro adolescent choice that will be discussed in the first section of the paper. The second section will focus on Paternalism and the ethics behind the health care team making the ultimate decision that will benefit the patient. As well as information and studies in regard to an adolescent’s decision making process, and their tendency to be impulsive.
Keywords: adolescents, end of life, healthcare, choice, autonomy, paternalism, impulsiveness, decision-making
Adolescents and the Choice of End of Life
End of Life Care involves choices such as hospice some instances, if that is what the patient chooses. Hospice involves that of palliative care, where health care professionals instead of treating the illness treat the patient they help to keep them comfortable and eliminate pain (Allender, Rector & Warner 2010). The choice of a patient’s end of life care is often considered after the diagnosis of a terminal illness, and the patient is able to decide how they would like to spend the rest of their days. Adolescence is characterized by a time of growing and finding ones self, which makes the debate about whether or not an adolescent should be able to make a decision about their own health care.
In Favor of Adolescents’ Choice
At what age should a person be able to make big decisions in life? We all start off having every choice made for us, that for the most part we just roll with the flow and whatever we are told to do we do, at least until we get into our teenage years. In the teenage years we begin to have input, what music we like, clothes, cars, food and the list goes on. We never stop to think if we had to are we mature enough to make decisions about our on personal health care or should we just let our parents continue to do so for us? With that being said what happens if a 16 year old decides they are tired of chemo everyday or the way their radiation treatments makes their mouth and throat feel? Should that 16 year old be allowed to simply say no, that he or she wants to spend what time they have left with their friends and family not connected to tubes or monitors dwindling away what little time they have left?
As teenagers begin to age they begin to gain some autonomy in their decisions, this is a natural part of aging (Berger, 2013). At what age is for us to say someone is too young to make decisions about life? As a nation was trust that same 16 year old on the road to stop at stop signs and drive the speed limit to protect and save lives. If a 16 year old is mature enough to operate a motor vehicle should they not be seen as...