Who owns the child in hospital? A preliminary discussion

Shields, L, Kristensson-Hallstrom, I, Kristjansdottir, G and Hunter, J (2003) Who owns the child in hospital? A preliminary discussion. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 41 3: 213-222. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02521.x

Author Shields, L
Kristensson-Hallstrom, I
Kristjansdottir, G
Hunter, J
Title Who owns the child in hospital? A preliminary discussion
Journal name Journal of Advanced Nursing   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2648
Publication date 2003
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02521.x
Volume 41
Issue 3
Start page 213
End page 222
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subject C1
321199 Nursing not elsewhere classified
730302 Nursing
Abstract Aim. To 'own' a person is considered an infringement of human rights, but we suggest that concepts of ownership influence interactions between parents and staff when a child is admitted to hospital. This paper aims to stimulate debate and contains an explanation of the exploration of the literature for research and discussion of ownership of the child. Method. A wide variety of library indexes, databases and populist media were examined although it was impossible to examine all literature which may have contained references to this topic, and, apart from databases which contained abstracts in English, we could not include literature written in any language other than English, Swedish, and Icelandic. Findings. We found no research that examines how concepts of ownership of a child affects communication between health professionals and parents and, ultimately, the delivery of health care. This paper begins discussion on the issues. Discussion. Historical literature shows that ownership of humans has been a part of many cultures, and parents were once considered to own their children. Ownership of another has legal connotations, for instance in guardianship struggles of children during marriage breakup and in ethical debates over surrogacy and products of assisted conception. Within health care, it becomes a contentious issue in transplantation of body parts, in discourse on autonomy and informed consent, and for religious groups who refuse blood transfusions. In health care, models such as family centred care and partnership in care depend on positive communication between parents and staff. If a hospital staff member feels that he/she owns a child for whom he/she is caring, then conflict between the staff member and the parents over who has the 'best interests of the child' at heart is possible. Conclusion. We encourage debate about concepts of who owns the hospitalized child - the parents or the staff? Should it be argued at all? Is the whole concept of ownership of another, be it adult or child, the ethical antithesis to modern beliefs about human rights? Comment on this issue is invited.
Keyword Nursing
Health Care
Human Rights
Informed Consent
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2004 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 20 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 02:50:24 EST