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Different Ways to Frame Decisions

Knowing for Sure
In medical decisions, as in other decisions for our families, there are no guarantees. All we can really be sure of is that we did our best, at the time, to do what’s best for our child. That is why we want you to talk carefully with your doctors and health care team.

  • Get all the information you can.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Talk to the people who know you and your child.
  • Think about the decision carefully.

As parents, we cannot be perfect, but we can do our best. That is what we should expect of ourselves, and what our children expect of us.

Benefits and Harms
One way to think about a course of treatment – and about each single treatment – is to ask about the potential harms and benefits it can bring to a child. Every treatment has both a harm and a benefit – and each can be small, large or somewhere in between.

  • Ask your health care team to help you sort out the possible harms and benefits.
  • Ask if the benefits and harms are certain or uncertain.
  • Ask about who gets the harms and benefits.
    o Harms and benefits to the patient are most important, but you also need to think about other members of your family, for example brothers and sisters.
  • Consider writing down the harms and benefits of each choice in a simple format like this: “Harms Versus Benefits of Doing the Treatment Versus Not Doing the Treatment”

Doing to or Doing for
When treatments and decisions get complicated, this simple question can be helpful: "Does this treatment do something for my child – or do something to my child?" This question recognizes that sometimes a treatment may be medically possible but doesn't really help the child overall.

Source: Children's Hospital and Clinics of Minnesota.