Exhaust All Measures: Ethical Issues in Pediatric End-of-Life Care

Kara J. Thieleman, Cara Wallace, Andrea N. Cimino, Heidi A. Rueda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The death of a child may have a profound impact on parents, family members, and health care providers who provided care for the child. Unique challenges are faced by parents of seriously ill children as they must serve as the legal authority for health care decisions of children under age 18, although the child’s wishes must also be considered. Social workers must balance core social work values, bioethical values, and psychosocial issues presented by such situations. While studies have been conducted with physicians and nurses regarding ethical issues in pediatric end-of-life care settings, little is known about how social workers experience these conflicts. This article utilizes two vignettes to illustrate potential ethical issues in this setting and applies the National Association of Social Workers Standards for Palliative and End of Life Care (NASW, 2004) to explore options for their resolution. These vignettes provide descriptions of possible reactions in this setting and can be used as a basis for further exploration of ethics in pediatric end-of-life care from a social work perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-306
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Death and dying
  • ethics
  • pediatric end-of-life care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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