Interview with Professor Gorm Greisen and Professor Jos Latour on Ethical-decision making and palliative care

Photo credit (left to right): Professor Gorm Greisen (Denmark) and Professor Jos Latour (Netherlands/UK)

Decision-making processes such as shared decision-making and communication processes are important in every neonatal unit. This month, we asked Professor Gorm Greisen and Professor Jos Latour, the Chair Team of the Topic Expert Group on Ethical-decision making and palliative care, some questions on important issues in the field.

EFCNI: What would you say are the most important topics in the field of Ethical-decision making and palliative care?
Expansion of the base for decisions as regard life support in newborn children is needed. The medical facts must be clarified as well as possible, but equally importantly, the family must be involved. Only by involvement of the family, their life conditions and views can be known, as well as their wish to contribute to any decision.

EFCNI: Why are they so important?
Intensive neonatal care is expanding in scope and great efforts are made in neonatal intensive care units to reduce neonatal mortality, which is the most significant part of overall childhood mortality. But in this process it is essential that the dignity and integrity of children and their families are protected and due attention is being given to minimise unnecessary suffering.

EFCNI: What are the major challenges in Ethical-decision making and palliative care in Europe?
Europe has a wide variety of languages and cultures. This is true for countries as well as for individual families. There is a great need for culture-sensitive medical and nursing practice.

EFCNI: How would you wish the field to develop? What is your wish for the future of the field of Ethical-decision making and palliative care?
This should be a focus in every neonatal care unit. An open and involving attitude to the complexities of the problems and the ethical dilemmas involved. By openness and readiness to talk about what is difficult, among professionals as well as between professionals and families, a medical and nursing practice that is founded in its civil context can develop.

View more: European Standards of Care for Newborn Health project