Brian Carter, M.D., an international expert in neonatal intensive care outcomes, medical bioethics and pediatric palliative care presented the 25th annual William T. Sirridge, M.D., Medical Humanities Lecture on March 28 at the School of Medicine.
An author of three textbooks on neonatal intensive care and palliative care, Carter shared his observations of how physicians can help parents deal the reality of a young child facing life-altering challenges.
He talked about helping them learn to adjust and accommodate the realities of a child’s condition that they can’t change.
He said parents and family of children in a NICU typically are fearful and anxious, maybe even desperate as they realize their dreams for their children are being shattered. He said parents go through a process of grasping the situation, trying to understand what decisions need to be made, who can help make them, and understanding all the facts they need to learn.
“If all I’m doing is providing more information and not tending to where they are in the process, they’ll be stuck,” Carter said. “They need to move forward. We need to recognize where they are in the process as we speak to them and try to usher them through.”
Carter joined the School of Medicine and Children’s Mercy Hospital in 2012 as a Professor of Pediatrics and Bioethics. He serves as co-director of the Children’s Mercy Bioethics Center’s Pediatric Bioethics Certificate Course and practices at Children’s Mercy Hospital as a neonatologist.
The recipient of numerous NIH grants, he has published extensively in the areas of neonatology, neonatal intensive care, palliative care, and bioethics.
He said that while clinicians in the NICU have the benefit of experience and understanding the outcomes of children in intensive care, they need to be cognizant of the needs of parents and families of these children.
“Let’s move away from information overload,” he said. “We ourselves need to sit down with the family and find out where they’re at, if they need someone to help them move forward.”