End of Life Ethical Dilemma Coursework

An ethical dilemma requires making a choice between two equally unfavorable alternatives. The basis of a dilemma can be a conflict between any combination of individuals obligations and rights, and those of another. This is due to the different circumstances that in End Of Life (EOL) circumstances. In this study, an ethical issue that can be encountered by a nurse practitioner is being discussed in the light of deontological ethical theory. This is a case of a mother whose baby has gone through an . She requested doctors to be by the babys side as her little son faced his last moments. The dilemma faced by the nurse was whether or not to allow the mother into the Operating Room (OR) which was against hospital rules. Consequently, an ethical issue arises, which is adequately addressed, for clear understanding. This is also reviewed in consideration to the American Nurses Association (ANA, 2009) code of ethics, and the international Council of Nurses (ICN) guidelines (ICN, 2009).

Decisions concerning treatment of dying patients present different options for their healthcare. These often lead to ethical dilemmas, some of which are quite complicated in the (EOL) care circumstances. According to Aiken (2009), even the nurses find themselves, at times not well prepared to resolve these dilemmas and issues. That might be due to the modern major technological advancements in healthcare systems that make it quite challenging to handle various situations effectively. The situation gets even more complicated with a legal system that is unprepared and cannot handle effectively ethical conflicts. It happens until the legal system develops a precedence of decisions made in such ethical dilemmas that can be cited later under the common law. In comparison, however, ethical system is more inclusive, exceeding the legal system in its coverage. In healthcare both law and ethics overlap in common practice. When faced with the difficult situations that require making such hard choices, the decision made has to be well defended, always in the light of the patients concerns and rights (Drug Policy Research Center, 2009). It leads to the fact that all EOL choices in medical grounds have their effects out of their complex psychosocial components having a resounding effect on the patient or the guardian of a baby patient (Urlich et al. 2010. pp. 20-22). A debate can be generated concerning restrictions against maximizing on moral good while interfering with moral standards. This, as championed by deontological moral theory, allowing for self-interpretation, can at times lead to moral dilemmas.

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Case Study
The case of a mother, whose baby has unsuccessfully undergone heart surgery and could not therefore be switched off from the heart lung machine, can be a point of focus, as an example. The mother wanted to go into the Operating Room and be with her child to the point of his death, since it was very clear the baby was facing death. The mother felt that this was the best she deserved. This put the nurse into a dilemma, since the hospitals rules were rigidly prohibitive to allow the mother into the operating room suite; yet she felt, ethically, it ought to have been the best option. After the baby had died, the parents were given a chance to see him. They also had a chance of seeing their babys body for the second time, but still restated their sorrow about not being with the baby when he died. Therefore, this prompted the nurse to think over the way of dealing with such cases in the future. In the interactions that ensued, the babys mother disclosed to the medical professionals why she had insisted on being with her baby at the time of his death. The result of it was formulation of the policy as a way of rectifying and dealing fairly with other such situations in the future.

In this case there were conflicting alternatives that could not be assumed. This presented a moral problem, with a difficult choice between two actions based on an ethical principle (Hamilton, 2009). The nurse had to decide whether to honor the principle of autonomy by informing the parents about the available options and make them understand, or beneficence and justice, where she should have believed and attended on time their demands and concerns. This would have been simply trying to maximize the good, which is against deontological moral theory. Therefore, the nurse decided to be non-consequential, to be completely absolute. However, a question of whether it is always justifiable to take such absolute stances arises. According to American Nurses association (ANA) code of ethics, the nurses initial commitment is to the client be it an individual, family, group, or community (ANA, 2011). In addition, the clients rights, safety and health should be protected, promoted and advocated for by the medical professionals. (American Nurses Association, 2001).


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