Name: Alhassan Kamara
STUDENT ID: 200016162
Course: HSA 515 (Health care, Policy, Law, and Ethics)
Instructor: Dr. Harold Griffin
Due date: 03/11/2012
In this paper, I am taking on the role of manager of a cancer center in a small, suburban hospital. I am dealing with a lot. The nursing staff has expressed burn out because of an increase of terminal cancer patients. In one extreme case, Nurse Nancy feeling empathy for a rapid decline in one of the patient’s health (a 30 year old single mother), want to give an extra dose of narcotic drugs that could potentially end the patient’s life, and what Nurse Nancy perceives as her suffering.
Q1. Explain how the Patient ...view middle of the document...
They do not have the right to refuse treatment which may result in the end of their lives, but for the nurse this is a purely passive position (White, 2004). However, when looking at a potential scenario where a patient seeks the provision of narcotic drugs with the intention of ending their lives the nurse would be acting illegally providing them. However, it is also worth noting that the patient does have the right to seek aggressive pain management treatment when they are in pain, this can include strong narcotics where there is a potential that the use of the narcotics may shorten the life of the patient (White, 2004). In this later case, early death is a side effect of the treatment, and not a suicide attempt. Therefore, the patient bill of rights does not give any right to the patient regarding assisted suicide.
Q2. Identify and explain at least three ethical considerations.
There are a number of ethical considerations when assessing the scenario and assisted suicide in general. The patient has the right to autonomy, so it may be argued that if the patient is fully competent and suffering significantly, that making a choice to die in order to end that suffering is a valid choice. The patient bill of rights, as well as general medical practice, emphasizes the rights of the patients to play an active role in their treatment. To deny them this choice may be argued as undermining the principle of autonomy (White, 2004). This argument can be taken further with the commonly cited example of vetenarian practices; where it is only allowed for owners and vets to euthanize animals in order to save them from suffering, it is seen as positive decisions where there are no treatments or hope left and the animal is in pain. The putting down of a suffering animal that will not recover is seen as humane. However, the same is not applied to humans. Therefore the first two ethical considerations may be the respect for patient wishes and the differentiation in treatment of humans and animals.
A third ethical consideration may be to look at the irreversible nature of suicide. There are many individuals who have attempted suicide and failed, but were later pleased that they had not died. The last consideration is that the patient in the scenario is a single mother, and that by assisting in suicide, as well as breaking the law, which itself is an ethical consideration, the child left behind will become motherless earlier, depriving them of the previous last weeks or mothers with their only parent, which would cause a great deal of distress.
Q3. Identify and explain at least three legal considerations.
From a legal perspective, the nurse’s position is very clear, it is illegal to take part in an assisted suicide, and this includes either giving the drugs or helping the patient to take the drugs. If a nurse takes part in an assisted suicide, she is likely to face criminal charges; a defense that the nurse was respecting patient wishes would not be...