I'm presently doing Clinical Pastoral Education (translation: ministry interning as a hospital chaplain) and my group heard a presentation by the hospital's resident medical ethicist. She posed a dilemma for us: a child is strongly suspected of having meningitis and the doctors urge a lumbar puncture procedure. The parents refuse, insisting that they have heard too many bad things about this procedure. Should the doctors proceed with it anyway against the will of the parents?
The group came to a consensus that the hospital should proceed with the lumbar puncture, and the ethicist agreed. Now here's the question that I then posed to the group, and I'd like to know what you think.
Would it be ethical for the hospital to bill the parents for the cost of this procedure even though they did not consent to it?