Ethical Decision Making in Healthcare
This is the analysis of a case study where a ethical dilemma is being faced by a health care professional. This ethical dilemma and the legal implications of a decision are the main theme of this case analysis. A brief description of the case on ethical decision making in healthcare is as follows:
A paramedical staff got a distress call at 2.30 am about a young woman who is intoxicated and suffered a fall. When paramedics reached at the spot they found that there were injuries all over the body of patient and she was clearly disoriented and disturbed because of intoxication and shock of fall. There was a deep wound observed on the forehead of patient which was bleeding profusely and it posed an immediate threat to the survival of the patient if immediate medical attention is not provided to her.
The problem becomes complicated when she refused to get any medical treatment and became abusive in words. She thoroughly declined to enter the ambulance or get any medical assistance what so ever. This problem is an ethical dilemma between legal issues and medico-social responsibility of the healthcare providing agency. On one hand it is effectively illegal to override a person’s medical decision making authority but it is also wrong to let the decision be taken by someone who is not presently capable of making a informed and intelligent decision because of intoxication and shock. Religion, nationality and other demographics of the woman are not yet known which makes the decision making more complicated as a legal guardian or a family member is not yet available to make the decision on her behalf. Cultural and other sociological facts about the patient are yet not known. Ethical problem is whether to override the patient’s wish to save her life or to get her consent first and then proceed with the treatment.
ETHICAL PRINCIPLES FOR CONSIDERATION
AUTONOMY:- as per the law of privacy and consent for medical treatment a patient can be treated only if he or she is giving her consent for it after she is being informed completely about the treatment and its possible risks. In case patient is not mentally or physically fit to understand the situation and make the decision a family member with medical power of attorney or a legal guardian can make the decision. This case clearly reflects the ethical problem because patient has refused to get medical treatment however she appears to be intoxicated and bleeding profusely. It is medically important that she gets medical attention immediately without which she can reach a fatal juncture in life. Autonomy of the patient is respected by ethical code of conduct and regulations as described by Australian Medical Association (AMA) states that consideration of the well being of patient should be kept at top priority for a health care provider and there are many ways through which a health care service provider can ensure that rules and laws are followed while taking care of a uncooperative and intoxicated person.
BENEFICENCE:- Benefits what can be obtained from the patient without getting her to agree for the treatment is getting to know her name and other details so that family and friends can be informed about the situation and ethical dilemma to make a decision about her treatment? Another benefit which can be obtained if patient is pacified enough is to get her a breath analyzer test to determine the level of alcohol if any in her body. This test will be done in front of at least two eye witnesses and results should be checked and verified by them so that later false claim cannot be made about its authenticity. Once it is verified that patient is disoriented and under intoxication then he can be deemed by law is incapable of making a decision and medical power of attorney gets automatically transferred to a person nominated by him and in case of critical treatment required the attending doctors can make the decision after informing all concerned authorities about it.
NON MALIFENCE:- There are certain risks associated with administrating treatment without consent from the patient like post operative litigation, unethical practice and most importantly breach of the privacy and basic rights of an individual. Bodily integrity is a fundamental right of every individual and any procedure which might affect the functional and structural integrity of an person’s body should be done with a proper informed consent. In order to avoid such litigation it is important that proper lawful procedure is to be followed. Initially it has to be verified in a legal manner that patient is in need of an immediate treatment because of the graveness of the injury. This can be done by a complete assessment of injury by a professional medical or paramedical staff. Further this it has to be made on the records that patient is under influence of an intoxicating material and cannot make a well though off decision about his medical requirements. This can be done by various tests like breath analyzer test and blood examinations. Reports of these test needs to be certified by a medical practitioner or a pathologist. In case of non availability of the medical professional on the spot samples can be taken and sealed there and sent to the laboratories for examination. In all activities having an eye witness who is credible should be present on the spot along with the patient and a health care provider.
Case studies in health care laws and medical laws can be difficult to comprehend considering the ethical and legal implications of the elements involved. The team of nursing experts and law experts works together at Oz Assignment Help to provide the best solutions for all assignment help needs of students in Australia.