Free Essay on Euthanasia: Situational Analysis of an Ethical Dilemma

Published: 2022-06-06
Free Essay on Euthanasia: Situational Analysis of an Ethical Dilemma
Type of paper:  Argumentative essay
Categories:  Nursing Euthanasia Ethical dilemma
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1905 words
16 min read

The challenges faced by healthcare professionals are becoming complex day by day. The technological advancements in the medical field have proposed a plethora of moral dilemmas which have been heavily questioned by the society based on the fundamental beliefs in religion (Daughen 2017). One of the most controversial debates in the nursing field is euthanasia and its applications. Euthanasia means an unjust act of assisting a terminally ill patient to die or peaceful termination of life. The practice has generated a heated debate on society that strongly holds religious values and it is currently only being practiced in Oregon, Montana, and Washington (Vaughn 2015). The practice is an interesting topic as it baffles how unethical it is to an extent that it is only allowed in a few hospitals in the United Kingdom. The primary argument in the application of euthanasia is how to determine that a patient is terminally ill and why death is the best alternative available (Wilson et al. 2007). One would wonder what the outcome would be if the practice is fully legalized in connection with the authority given to the medical practitioners. The primary objective of this paper is to write a situation and analyze it based on the ethical theories and nursing code of ethics. The paper will also detail the core beliefs on this topic from the viewpoint of a religious worldview and provide possible resolutions for the dilemma in the case presented as well as highlight the consequences and benefits of the proposed resolutions.

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There are numerous cases that have prompted medical practitioners to terminate the lives of patients who are terminally ill. One of these cases is of a recent patient, a young lady aged 24 who accidentally fractured her vertebrate while swimming. The injury left her quadriplegic and completely paralyzed from the shoulders down. Such physiological transformation of her body has made her go through a deep depression and she is currently contemplating on ending her life. Her future does not currently look rosy and she has completely lost hope in ever recovering or enjoying life again. She has opted for euthanasia as the only solution to her problem.

Her decision is one of the few choices that normally put doctors on tenterhooks. Such a case requires extensive medical and social consultation with the family members and other medical staff. The first primary objective is to determine whether the client has accepted to be subjected to euthanasia. The second is to determine if such a decision is personal or the family members are aware of it and have consented to it. The last decision relies on the doctors who should establish if the condition of the patient warrants forceful termination of their lives (Thienpont et al. 2015). However, such decisions normally meet societal backlash since most people term it as murder and no doctor has the expertise to determine when a patient is suitable for euthanasia (Kilkenny et al. 2010).

The doctors would find it difficult to make an ethical decision in her case since she is no longer able to lead a productive life as she once used to. Being in her position must be grueling when the life she once enjoyed is no longer making sense and she can barely move. She no longer hopes for anything good in life and every good moment that she once had has been clouded by the terrible accident that has completely rendered her a burden to the society. Additionally, her condition would require constant care from family members. Since she had started working and was paying her own bills, her condition renders her economically useless and she has to start relying on her parents' meager income. This has greatly affected her and inflicted more depression on her. Her decision to go for euthanasia would also heavily affect the people she loves. The decision would be more difficult to make with the knowledge that she would affect other people's lives. The patient has two options for resolving the issue; the first option is to live with the situation until her natural death and the second option is to use euthanasia as a means of ending her life as she had requested. Based on her decision, it is upon the doctors to make the right decision in connection with their ethical code of conduct and religious expectations.

Health professionals are normally guided by the basic principles on human life and how it should be handled. The Hippocratic Oath has been influencing medical ethics for decades and it states, "I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it nor will I make a suggestion to this effect" (A Nigro 2015, p.68). Medical practitioners have always been advised to value life and preserve it by all possible means. However, this motto might not be taken by certain doctors who are approached with the same problem as the patient. Many doctors have assisted numerous patients to achieve a painless death with a view that it is the kindest act a physician can perform in resolving the situation (Seale 2009). Doctors believe that their primary objective is to cure the pain that their patients experience when they cannot recover. If the patient's life is understood to be intolerable or is on the verge of an inescapable painful death, any doctor cannot stand for it. However, most of the doctors who perform euthanasia are normally sued. For instance, Dr. Kevorkian who terminated the life of his patient who was terminally ill was sentenced to eight years in prison in1999 for a second-degree murder (Silvers and Battin 2015). The most fundamental question that one must ask is whether the arrest of Dr. Kevorkian was fair.

There is numerous legal and social consideration that must be taken into account before any patient is subjected to euthanasia. The primary requirement is consent from the patient. The family must also be contacted before any action is taken (Appel 2009). The doctors must also review the ethical code of conducts that govern their actions and the rules of the country where the patient is seeking medical attention (Jamison 2000). In relation to Dr. Kevorkian case, he was legally wrong since the termination of the life of the patient was exercised in a country that does not allow euthanasia. Healthcare professionals must follow laws governing their countries and they must be committed to delivering quality service to patients. There is a grey space when making a decision of terminating the life of a terminally ill patient. An autonomy should not allow one to take their lives and causing one's death cannot be justified, even if it means dying (Ellis 2015). This makes life to be meaningless and when one makes a decision to die, they show that life is valueless. Conversely, for those who believe in freedom of speech, they have the right to do what they want with their lives and any decision that they make should be challenged by either the doctors or the government. According to Kissane and Kelly, a patient has a right to resist medical treatment that they do not approve of (2000).

According to Grace and DRN, (2017), the culture of safety is a significant practice in the healthcare sector that protects both patients and the healthcare providers. The culture of safety refers to the beliefs, attitudes values or perceptions shared by health workers regarding their safety and those of the patients within a given work environment (Moorhead et al. 2018). It forms part of an organization's culture and therefore informs how the employees conduct themselves within the organization (Bryman and Bell 2015). The culture of a health institution is significant as it determines how everyone operates within the hospital. Furthermore, this kind of culture ensures that hospitals put up safety measures for both the workers and the patients (Bodie et al. 2014). Therefore, stakeholders get protected from any risk in the line of duty while the patients get quality services away from threats and other forms of hazardous situations (Edelman et al. 2017. In the process, healthcare institutions and professionals can provide quality service which is a significant aspect of his duties and also helpful to the patients in other words; such culture will provide a cross-cutting benefit to the management, the employees as well as the patients (Brauer 2016). More fundamentally, the culture of safety fosters the concept of sustainability and consistency in the system. It ensures that the workers continue to offer services without any risk. It also saves the patients from the contraction of other infections.

It is also part of the ethical codes of conduct for health practitioners to raise alarm should they sense anything that would jeopardize both the quality of service and the life of their patients and other staffs (Robinson et al. 2016). First, it is significant to note that this is a severe case that involves the lives of the people. Trained medical officers can determine the quality of service delivered to the people based on their training and experience in the field of nursing and medicine (Varcarolis 2016). In such a case, they have the responsibility to determine what is going on within the hospital beds (Sabino et al. 2016). Therefore, they undertake a search to ascertain whether other workers are working to the interest of the patients, for instance, if they determine a mischievous activity going on, they should hesitate to report the matter to the management for stun action against the perpetrators and justice done to the patients.

Proper health communication skills are defined by the ability of the medical practitioners to easily communicate with their colleagues, patients and stakeholders of the health institution (Susskind and Susskind 2015). Proper communication skills enable doctors to make informed decision when dealing an ethical dilemma. With an informed decision making, they are able to balance their authority and positive attributes when dealing with patients who wants to terminate their lives due to their serious illnesses or irreversible conditions (Gill et al. 2017). Therefore, an effective health procedure must incorporate the aspect of communication. Popper communications ensure the officers get the right information from the patients to be able to diagnose and provide solutions to their challenges (Jefrey 2018). Additionally, policy plays an integral role in regulating the behaviors of medical practitioners and in shaping their judgment. For instance, termination of a patient's life requires nurses who are competent and adhere to the set code of conducts (Sinclair et al. 2016). They have to fully understand the procedure after extensive consultation with the patient and the government. Their decisions must infuse the aspect of policy and they must learn the importance of sticking to guidelines of carrying out euthanasia. The ability of an officer to adhere to specific rules and regulations is a result of a better training on the system (Harriss, and Atkinson 2015), (Corey 2015). The policy framework of a health organization fosters the concepts of honesty and integrity that in a big way makes it possible for the provision of services to the clients.

The life of a patient is currently being supported by numerous artificial processes that can be withdrawn by the doctors if the patient is very ill and under constant excruciating pain. This is a perfect example of passive euthanasia. The advanced technology has enabled life to be aided with different artificial means such as pacemakers, defibrillators, ventilators and feeding tubes (Erker, Santamaria and Mollmann 2012). The usage of these life support machines normally generates disagreements when the patient under treatment is terminally ill which forces them to live under cruel and unnatural conditions.

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