HealthCare Ethical Dilemma Analysis
In 1,000–1,250 words, identify an example of a healthcare ethical dilemma, describe it, and identify the stakeholders involved. Put yourself in the place of the health care administrator to answer the following questions related to your example:
- Which ethical principles are at risk in this dilemma? Describe how each is being threatened. For example, a patient’s autonomy is being threatened if an overbearing family member is not listening to the patient’s wishes.
- Describe how the Christian worldview could be used to apply ethical patient-centered principles, values, and culture to this situation.
- Describe the importance of interprofessional collaboration when resolving an ethical dilemma versus attempting resolution in silos.
- Explain the ethical decision you would make in this dilemma and provide the rationale for your decision.
- Explain how professionalism, integrity, and self-confidence all have a role in achieving a resolution in this ethical dilemma.
This assignment requires three to five scholarly peer-reviewed articles.
Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.
This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.
Ethical Dilemma in Healthcare: The Battle Over End-of-Life Decisions
Healthcare is rife with ethical dilemmas, often involving complex decisions that impact patients, their families, and healthcare providers. One prevalent ethical dilemma in healthcare revolves around end-of-life decisions, specifically, the conflict between patient autonomy and family interests in making critical medical choices. In this essay, we will explore a hypothetical case and address the ethical principles, consider the Christian worldview, emphasize the importance of interprofessional collaboration, present the moral decision, and discuss the role of professionalism, integrity, and self-confidence in resolving the dilemma.
The Ethical Dilemma
Imagine a scenario in which a 75-year-old patient, Mr. Smith, is admitted to the hospital with end-stage lung cancer. His condition deteriorates rapidly, and he can no longer make decisions for himself. According to his advanced directive, he had expressed his wish to be kept comfortable and avoid invasive treatments that could prolong his life. However, Mr. Smith’s two adult children, Emily and James, strongly disagree about the course of treatment.
Emily, who is deeply religious, believes in the sanctity of life and insists that everything possible should be done to extend her father’s life. She argues that it is against her Christian beliefs to “give up” on life, regardless of the quality. On the other hand, James, a healthcare professional aware of the suffering his father is enduring, respects his father’s wishes as outlined in the advanced directive and believes in letting him pass with dignity.
- Mr. Smith: The patient at the center of the dilemma, whose autonomy and best interests must be considered.
- Emily: Mr. Smith’s daughter is concerned about preserving her father’s life based on her Christian beliefs.
- James: Mr. Smith’s son, a healthcare professional, who values his father’s autonomy and quality of life.
- Medical Team: The healthcare providers responsible for Mr. Smith’s care, including physicians, nurses, and support staff.
- Hospital Ethics Committee: A potential stakeholder to provide guidance and expertise on ethical issues.
- Religious Advisor: If Emily’s Christian beliefs strongly influence the situation, a spiritual advisor could guide them from a faith perspective.
Ethical Principles at Risk
- Patient Autonomy: The principle of patient autonomy is at risk as Mr. Smith’s right to make his healthcare decisions, as expressed in his advanced directive, is challenged by Emily’s desire for aggressive treatment.
- Beneficence: The ethical principle of doing good is challenged as the medical team must balance the potential benefit of aggressive treatment against the potential harm and suffering it may cause Mr. Smith.
- Non-Maleficence: The principle of non-maleficence, or “do no harm,” is threatened as aggressive treatments may impose additional suffering on Mr. Smith, contrary to his wishes for comfort.
- Justice: The ethical principle of justice is at risk if the medical team does not provide the same level of care and respect to Mr. Smith as they would to any other patient in a similar situation.
Christian Worldview Application
The Christian worldview promotes the sanctity of life and the importance of preserving it. However, it also emphasizes compassion, empathy, and respect for individual choices. In this case, a Christian perspective would encourage considering Mr. Smith’s autonomy, as outlined in his advanced directive, and the avoidance of excessive suffering. This viewpoint aligns with James’ stance, emphasizing that preserving life should not entail undue pain and suffering. It is essential to acknowledge that interpretations of Christian beliefs may vary, and discussions with a religious advisor could help bridge the gap between Emily’s perspective and a more balanced approach that considers the patient’s autonomy and dignity.
Importance of Interprofessional Collaboration
Interprofessional collaboration is vital when resolving ethical dilemmas because it ensures a multifaceted approach to decision-making. In this case, the involvement of healthcare providers, ethicists, and possibly a religious advisor creates a more comprehensive view of the situation. Collaboration allows for a balanced medical, ethical, and spiritual analysis, preventing decisions from being made in silos. The input of healthcare professionals like James, who have firsthand knowledge of the medical implications, is crucial to crafting an ethical solution that respects Mr. Smith’s wishes while considering the medical realities.
Ethical Decision and Rationale
The ethical decision in this scenario should prioritize Mr. Smith’s autonomy, comfort, and dignity. Given his advanced directive, which explicitly outlines his desire for palliative care and avoidance of invasive treatments, the medical team should respect his wishes. This approach aligns with patient autonomy, non-maleficence, and beneficence. It respects Mr. Smith’s right to decide about his body and avoids subjecting him to treatments that may cause unnecessary suffering.
The rationale for this decision is twofold:
- Respect for Autonomy: Upholding Mr. Smith’s autonomy is paramount. It ensures that his wishes are honored and he is not subjected to treatments against his will. Autonomy is a fundamental principle in medical ethics. It should be respected unless there is clear evidence that the patient’s decision is not in their best interest, which is not the case here.
- Minimizing Suffering: Avoiding aggressive treatments that prolong life at the cost of suffering is in line with the principles of non-maleficence and beneficence. The medical team must not harm and provide care in the patient’s best interest. In this case, Mr. Smith’s best interest is achieved by providing palliative care and minimizing his suffering.
Professionalism, Integrity, and Self-Confidence
Professionalism, integrity, and self-confidence significantly resolve this ethical dilemma. Healthcare professionals must act professionally by adhering to the highest ethical standards, maintaining open communication with family members, and respecting the patient’s autonomy. Integrity requires honesty and transparency in explaining the situation to the family, especially Emily, and ensuring that all relevant information is provided. Self-confidence is essential in making and sticking to difficult decisions that align with the patient’s best interests and established ethical principles.
Ethical dilemmas in healthcare, such as the conflict between patient autonomy and family interests in end-of-life decisions, can be challenging. In this case, the Christian worldview should be considered, but the primary focus should be on upholding Mr. Smith’s autonomy, respecting his advanced directive, and minimizing his suffering. Interprofessional collaboration is crucial to ensure a well-rounded approach to decision-making, and professionalism, integrity, and self-confidence are vital in navigating such dilemmas. Ultimately, the patient’s best interests and autonomy should be the guiding principles in the decision-making process.