Current Pediatrics Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 173–177 | Cite as

Charlie Gard: How Did Things Go Wrong?

  • Elisha Waldman
  • Joel Frader
Pediatric Palliative Care (KS Hoehn, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Pediatric Palliative Care


Purpose of Review

We examine the discussions generated to date by the Charlie Gard case, as well as the events of the case itself, in order to examine lessons for providers dealing with similar situations in the future.

Recent Findings

Publications regarding the Gard case are relatively few and focus primarily on the ethical and legal issues that arise when involving the court system in complex medical decision-making and potential limits to parental authority. Some publications have also addressed the subject of experimental therapies, especially from the perspective of potential harms, suffering, and cost.


We suggest early introduction of palliative care and careful attention to communication might reduce conflict and improve satisfaction for all involved parties. Likewise, we suggest limiting court system to truly extraordinary circumstances; all efforts should be made to avoid legal action and to honor and respect parental authority.


Palliative care Parental authority Best interest Harm Communication 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

  1. 1.
    • Lantos J. The tragic case of Charlie Gard. JAMA Ped. 2017;171:935–6. An important notation of the implications of expanding genetic knowledge and testing. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    High Court of Justice Family Division. Great Ormond Street Hospital v. Constance Yates and Chris Gard [2017] EWHC 972 (FAM). Case No. FD17P00103.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wilkinson D, Savulescu J. Hard lessons: learning from the Charlie Gard case. J Med Ethics. 2017;0:1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    •• Shah S, Rosenberg A, Diekema D. Charlie Gard and the limits of best interest. JAMA Peds. 2017;171:937–8. Provides a reminder about the inherent problems with typical notions of best interest in pediatrics. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    •• Wilkinson D, Savulescu J. After Charlie Gard: ethically ensuring access to innovative treatment. Lancet. 2017;390:540–2. A cogent summary of an alternative approach to the use of unproven interventions. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Caplan A, McBride Folkers K. Charlie Gard and the limits of parental authority. Hastings Cent Rep. 2017;5:15–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Truog R. The United Kingdom sets limits on experimental treatments. JAMA. 2017;318:1001–2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Palliative Care, Department of PediatricsAnn & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations