Think about the area in which you plan to practice. Create a case study that would include at least one or two ethical issues. Post this case and respond to cases presented by your fellow learners.
Case Study: Ethical Issues in the Field of Medicine
In the field of medicine, ethical considerations play a crucial role in decision-making and patient care. This case study focuses on Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, a highly experienced physician working in a private hospital. Dr. Thompson is facing a complex situation that involves multiple ethical dilemmas. The case study explores the ethical issues she encounters and how she handles them.
Dr. Thompson, a specialist in internal medicine, is assigned to care for Mr. Johnson, a 65-year-old patient suffering from end-stage renal disease. Mr. Johnson has been on dialysis for the past year and his condition continues to deteriorate. Dr. Thompson has been providing him with the utmost care and support, holding numerous consultations to discuss his treatment options.
Recently, Mr. Johnson’s daughter, Susan, approached Dr. Thompson with a request to prioritize her father’s treatment over other patients. She explains that her father has always been a diligent taxpayer, economically supporting the community, and believes he deserves preferential treatment.
Dr. Thompson finds herself in an ethical dilemma as she strives to provide equitable and fair treatment to all her patients while considering Mr. Johnson’s contributions to society and his daughter’s emotional appeal. This situation raises several ethical issues for her to address.
1. Justice and Fairness: Dr. Thompson is confronted with the challenge of providing equal care to all patients while considering Susan’s request for preferential treatment for her father based on his financial contributions to the community. This ethical issue raises questions about equitable distribution of limited medical resources and the potential impact on other patients who may be in urgent need of treatment.
2. Patient Autonomy: Mr. Johnson’s daughter, Susan, expresses her desires for her father’s care, raising questions about patient autonomy and the role of family involvement in medical decision-making. Dr. Thompson must navigate the delicate balance between respecting the wishes of the patient’s family and ensuring that the patient’s autonomy and best interests are upheld.
Dr. Thompson recognizes the importance of addressing the ethical issues at hand and takes a systematic approach to resolve the situation. She schedules a meeting with Mr. Johnson and his daughter, Susan, to discuss their concerns and clarify the ethical principles guiding her medical practice.
During the meeting, Dr. Thompson explains the principle of justice and fairness, emphasizing the need to allocate medical resources fairly and impartially. She acknowledges Mr. Johnson’s contributions to the community but emphasizes that all patients, regardless of their financial status or social standing, deserve equal access to healthcare. Dr. Thompson also highlights the potential consequences of prioritizing one patient over another and the detrimental impact it could have on the overall healthcare system.
Regarding patient autonomy, Dr. Thompson discusses the importance of Mr. Johnson’s voice in making decisions about his own treatment. She assures Susan that her father’s wishes and preferences will be respected throughout the process, encouraging open communication between the medical team, Mr. Johnson, and his family.
To address Susan’s concerns and involve her in the decision-making process, Dr. Thompson suggests enlisting the assistance of a hospital social worker or counselor to provide emotional support and guidance. This would help ensure that Mr. Johnson’s wishes are taken into account while considering the ethical principles of fairness and justice.
This case study highlights the complexities that healthcare professionals face when dealing with ethical issues in their practice. In this scenario, Dr. Thompson demonstrates a thoughtful and ethical approach to resolving the situation by considering the principles of justice, fairness, and patient autonomy. By engaging in open dialogue with the patient and his family, as well as seeking additional professional support, Dr. Thompson strives to find a balance between the conflicting values and responsibilities involved.