Medical treatment of Sudan twins raises ethical, professional, legal issues

Case brings to the fore dilemma medical practitioners face
10th January 2011: The medical treatment case of 11-month old twins from Khartoum, Sudan, has brought to the fore not only the plight of the asylum seekers, but also the dilemma medical practitioners face.
It has also raised vital issues involving ethics, profession and legality; and also the need for greater clarity on the issue.

The issues have been thrown up for debate and consideration by a medical finalist from Newcastle. He has written on NHS treatment and failed asylum-seekers to the Journal of Medical Ethics blog of the BMJ Group Blogs.

The communication is about a paediatric placement he undertook earlier this academic year.

The finalist has written that he was involved in the care of the 11-month old twins brought by their parents to a hospital as they were suffering from recurrent generalised tonic-clonic (grand mal) siezures.

Giving details of the treatment, he has written they were, apart of their treatment, administered with intravenous antiepileptic medications and maintenance fluids.

But a day after their admission, the family was informed about the rejection of their plea for leave to remain in the UK. The family was asked to return to Sudan with immediate effect.

The finalist has written he is quoting the incident to underscore ethical, legal and professional issues brought about by the medical treatment of failed asylum seekers on the NHS.

Elaborating upon his reasons for writing to the blog, he has asserted whether as an expert in medical ethics the group had knowledge of any textbooks or published documents offering guidance on the issue.

He says he can best hope for is a chapter in an ethics textbook. But so far his visits to hospital and varsity libraries have not yielded any results; furthermore.

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