Parents and guardians of seriously ill children often face difficult decisions about their child's medical care. As a physician practicing for about 20 years in a pediatric intensive care unit, I knew that many of the interventions I used, while potentially life-saving, had no guarantee of success and carried a risk of significant harm or even death.
When faced with a life-threatening disease for which there are few good options, parents sometimes want to try a promising drug that is still under development. I have lived through this situation with parents many times, both in the intensive care unit and as a medical ethicist. Some parents see the drug as a lifeline where none had existed before. It is a natural instinct for parents to want to leave no stone unturned.