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Ethical care of the children of jehovah’s witnesses

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The right of adults with full decision-making capacity to refuse specific treatments such as a blood transfusion is well-established in the legal and ethical realms. In adults who have lost their decision-making capacity, the principle of substituted judgment has also been well-defined. However, in the case of parents or guardians who refuse a child’s recommended medical treatments for religious or other reasons, conflicts may arise. In this chapter, we examine the clinical case of an adolescent with a malignancy requiring surgery and, quite likely, a blood transfusion whose parents are some of Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW). We also discuss the ethical, legal and medical ramifications of this clinical situation.




Johnson, L. M., & West, J. M. (2015). Ethical care of the children of jehovah’s witnesses. In Ethical Issues in Anesthesiology and Surgery (pp. 67–78). Springer International Publishing.

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