The hypothetical case study involving the patient who requires an ovarian cyst offers an example of a case requiring the attentive use of healthcare ethical practices. According to this case study, the decision to not go through the surgery due to fear of needles represents the autonomy principle of healthcare ethics. Beneficence implies that healthcare practitioner must do everything within their power to provide care to their patients. Allowing the patient’s condition to progress to kidney failure would affect other people who receive dialysis required for kidney patients. As such, providing alternative care options for the patient would imply respecting both the patient’s decision while at the same time providing the required care. This paper offers a discussion of a podcast based on health ethics.
In the podcast, Sheri the author of the book Five Days in Memorial offers her experience about a hospital that received patients during a bombing. The hurricane Katrina affected memorial hospital as it had moved the generators to the second floor while other electrical appliances were on the lower floors. There were approximately 250 patients and 2000 people at the hospital. A group of doctors came up with a system to clear the patients from the hospital.
The decisions made by the doctors in the podcast to decide which patients were allowed to receive health care services were based on the needs of the patients. Patients requiring intensive care, babies and critical care patients were given the first priority to be moved from the memorial medical center through a helicopter. Patients who had signed a do not resuscitate (DNR) form were given the last chance to be moved from the hospital. In the case of the patients who had signed a DNR the principle of autonomy applies to the decision made by the healthcare professionals. The principle of autonomy requires healthcare providers to respect patients’ decisions not to be resuscitated. In terms of the four principles of ethics the decision to assist the critically ill patients first before the others was based on a utilitarian theory approach (Sheng, 2012; Baillie, Baillie, Garrett, & Garette, 2013).
The patients who were categorized in the acute care were placed in the last group. They prioritized the most healthiest patients first and the acute care patients were considered the least important. According to the nurse, the group used the utilitarian theory, which was based on doing good for the most patients (Sheng, 2012).
Some of the healthcare practitioners decided to put the pets out of their misery through euthanasia. Dr. Brian King, one of the doctors at the facility was one of the doctors against the idea of euthanasia. Dr. Ana Poe was one of the doctors that supported the decision to kill the patients with chronic illnesses by using morphine. Approximately twenty-one of the patients were killed through euthanasia. One of the principles that support her decisions was the principle of double effect. Although the principle of the double effect is based on either quickening the death of a patient or choosing to abandon the patient. This method advocates for the principle of ‘do no harm’ which states that healthcare practitioners should consider the effects of their decisions (Fink, 2014).
During the town council meeting, the discussion on how decision should be made was based on a case study of a pandemic influenza. In this case, there were too many patients with inadequate resources. The first options was to provide the ventilators to the people who had the likelihood of living for the longest period. In this case, young children and the healthiest people would be given the ventilators first. The second options was to pick people who would be most important during the pandemic. As such, the healthcare providers such as nurses, doctors, and first aid providers would be offered the ventilators first. The third option was to provide the ventilators to anyone who came first. In this case, the activity would be in the form of a lottery where the patients who were strongest and could access the ventilators first, would be able to access these services. I believe that the best methods in the case of the town hall would be to offer healthcare practitioners the ventilators first. This would allow them to be able to help as many patients as possible. The doctor running the activity ensured that the decisions about who would receive the ventilator was not made based on the status of the people (Fink, 2014; Baillie, Baillie, Garrett, & Garette, 2013). Most of the people at the town hall based their decisions on the utilitarian theory. They suggested that people who were alcoholics or had criminal records did not deserve to have the ventilators.
The decision made by the people during the activity conducted at town hall meeting would be used to create effective guidelines. An advantage to using the ideologies raised by the people was that it was based by the opinions of many people. On the other hand, putting these theories to practice could be challenging in real life situations. In conclusion while using the utilitarian theory seemed like a simple well-planned method of selecting the patients who would receive care first, it goes against the practice of medicine and other healthcare ethics. Saving a patient with a DNR note who had lived a good life and was young would imply going against the autonomy principle.
Baillie, H. M., Baillie, H. W., Garrett, R. M., & Garette, T. M. (2013). Health Care Ethics. Pearson.
Fink, S. (2014). Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. Broadway Books.
Sheng, C. L. (2012). A New Approach to Utilitarianism: A Unified Utilitarian Theory and Its Application to Distributive Justice. Springer Science & Business Media.