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How do physicians perceive quality of life? Ethical questioning in neonatology

Abstract : Background: The outcome of very preterm infants is marked by the development of complications that can have an impact on the quality of life of the children and their families. The concept of quality of life and its evaluation in the long term raise semantic and ethical problems for French physicians in perinatal care. Our reflection aims to gain a better understanding of the representations surrounding quality of life in neonatal medicine. Discussion: If French physicians hesitate to face this concept (through self-interest and apprehension), it is because the debate has become more complex. Formerly, the dilemma was between respect for life versus quality of life. Today, although this dilemma is still with us, the questions raised by French physicians show us that autonomy is given increasing importance. The equation to be solved now contains three variables: respect for life, well-being, autonomy. So we find ourselves between three positions and no longer two: respect for life (the ethics of conviction), quality of life based on autonomy (rationalist and secular deontologism), and quality of life based on the differential between well-being and suffering (utilitarianism). Summary: A solution could lie in consequentialism, which integrates the consequences for future generations in terms of both safeguarding of autonomy and quality of life, and puts the sacredness of life in second place but without sacrificing it. By evaluating their future quality of life, we can better respond to the needs of these children.
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Marie-Ange Einaudi, Catherine Gire, Pascal Auquier, Pierre Le Coz. How do physicians perceive quality of life? Ethical questioning in neonatology. BMC Medical Ethics, BioMed Central, 2015, 16, pp.50. ⟨10.1186/s12910-015-0045-5⟩. ⟨hal-01199726⟩

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