#UnchartedTerritory: The new era of social media and its impact on end of life decision making for critically ill infants

Content warning: This webinar references child mortality and may be distressing for some people.

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Event details

Content warning: This webinar references child mortality and may be distressing for some people.

How does social media proliferation, the court of public opinion, and the 24-hour news cycle affect end of life decision-making for critically ill infants?

Recent UK high profile cases concerning terminally ill infants Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans have attracted global attention. In both cases, the parents and medical practitioners disagreed on medical treatment decisions.

In the hope of keeping their critically ill infants alive against medical opinion and advice, the parents employed ‘supercharged' digital, social media and crowdfunding campaign strategies to gain public and political support from many, including the President of the United States and even acquiring religious endorsement from the Pope.

These cases headline a shift away from a conventional collaborative (and private) approach in treatment decision disputes, to using social media platforms and actively engaging with the public throughout the end of life decision-making process.

Over several decades, there have been many technological feats in science and medicine, improving the lives of many. Yet, social media has been sitting in plain sight and has caused significant disruption in a very short period time – for ethics committees, hospitals, courts and the lives of many.

The law, ethics, and policymakers now need to rethink and consider end of life decision cases in this context. How will social media impact treatment decisions? This is uncharted territory in a world of hashtags, likes, and re-tweets.

About the presenter

Dr Neera Bhatia is an Associate Professor at Deakin Law School. She is the author of ‘Critically impaired infants and end of life decision-making: Resource allocation and difficult decisions’ published by Routledge Cavendish (UK). Her research interests are in the areas of end of life decision-making concerning critically impaired infants and children, organ donation and voluntary assisted dying. She regularly appears in the media as an expert commentator, engaging with the wider community on topical issues in health law.

If this content has raised issues for you, please contact Lifeline (www.lifeline.org.au / 13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (www.beyondblue.org.au / 1300 224 636)

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Date and time

Wednesday 21 August 2019


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