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bioethics, decision-making, futility, trisomy 18



  1. Santucci, Gina RN, MSN, FNP-BC
  2. Battista, Vanessa RN, MS, CPNP
  3. Kang, Tammy I. MD, MSCE


Infants born with trisomy 18 have multiple congenital abnormalities and shortened life spans. Advances in medical and surgical technology have provided some families with choices to optimize care. Given the differing outcomes that exist for infants born with trisomy 18, several questions are raised that carry weighty ethical implications. A case study will be discussed to illustrate the ethical dilemmas that nurses encounter when caring for infants with Trisomy 18. These dilemmas include the following: (1) When is it ethical to limit options offered for medical interventions? (2) Who makes decisions when options for medical interventions are considered futile? (3) What principles guide decisions about care? (4) What options are available to nurses when they do not agree with family members about suffering?