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Cha’s (2020) article discusses a case where a person’s disability is view as poor quality of life. In the article, Mr. Hickson’s continuation of treatment is futile related to his disability. The decision on the treatment being futile often occurs in the healthcare field. This decision leads healthcare professionals to question what is more important, quality of pain-free life or saving the life?
Although, it is important to consider the patient’s choices and receive consent to the plan of care. By not receiving informed consent from the patient ethical principles and the framework for decision-making were not applied correctly.
Mr. Hickson’s rights to autonomy were taken away by not allowing him to make his own decisions in his care. The patient was not allowed to provide informed consent on the route of his care. It also seems that the family lack education on the patient’s diagnosis that contributed to his treatment plan.
The failure of beneficence was seen by not promoting Mr. Hickson’s welfare such as the physician not treating the diagnosis any longer. The ethics of nonmaleficence was not performed by not continuing treatments which eventually led to the passing of Mr. Hickson’s death. In Mr. Hickson’s case, justice failed him due to the misconception that disability equals a poor quality of life. A disabled person holds the same right as a young adult and can live a quality life.
Askitopoulou & Vgontzas (2018), indicates principles from the oath demonstrate humanistic and moral values. The physician in Mr. Hickson’s care violated the oath of “no harm” (Askitopoulou & Vgontzas, 2018). The oath is violated by moving the patient from an ICU unit to hospice care which may lead to death a lot sooner. Although, the act committed by the physician is justified. The healthcare professional acts are justified, by the oath of providing protection from long-term pain, which is inevitable in intubation due to the increased risk of aspiration, vocal paralysis, and enduring long-term pain. Askitopoulou & Vgontzas’s literature states that the Hippocratic Oath encompasses commitment such as “the physician to respect the dignity of the patient and his family”. Mr. Hickson and his wife’s dignity are not preserved and respected due to the approach of the situation to inform the family of the treatment route.
Medical futility increases moral dilemmas among healthcare professionals. Although, it is highly important to treat everyone fairly and with respect when providing care. In this case, nonmaleficence could have been provided by keeping the patient and wife up to date with the diagnosis and ensuring they understood the information being provided to them to ease them and help them become involved in his care.
Askitopoulou, H., & Vgontzas, A. N. (2018). The relevance of the Hippocratic Oath to the ethical and moral values of contemporary medicine. Part I: The Hippocratic Oath from antiquity to modern times. European Spine Journal: official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society, 27(7), 1481–1490. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-017-5348-4
Askitopoulou, H., & Vgontzas, A. N. (2018). The relevance of the Hippocratic Oath to the ethical and moral values of contemporary medicine. Part II: Interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath—today’s perspective. European Spine Journal, 27(7), 1491–1500. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00586-018-5615-z
Cha, A. E. (2020, July 6). Quadriplegic man’s death from covid-19 spotlights questions of disability, race and family. The Washington Post. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/07/05/c…
Shapiro, J. (2020, July 31). One man’s covid-19 death raises the worst fears of many people with disabilities. NPR. Retrieved August 29, 2022, from https://www.npr.org/2020/07/31/896882268/one-mans-…
While reading these articles and watching this video, I tried to keep an open mind. Many times, I caught myself saying “there’s no way the doctor did that” or “I don’t believe the nurse was that rude and just bluntly refused to help their patient.” It was extremely hard to read the articles for this assignment and watch the video and not want to instantly defend my fellow nurses and medical staff. But as a mother, it was even harder to think, what if that was my child? Is that what this case really is, just that of grieving parents? It is understandable that parents would grieve the loss of their child and feel the need to blame something or someone. And as a nurse, I know how difficult it can be when every medical treatment has been exhausted but it does not change the outcome and the patient is still lost.
Based on the Schara family’s point of view, ethical principles such as beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, and several others were disregarded. Was this truly due to Grace having down syndrome? Would the same actions have taken place if she did not have a condition that altered her cognitive ability? In one article Mr. Schara stated that Grace was able to read and write. Is a person’s ability to read and write not typically used to determine their literacy status? What was her cognitive status? Morally, it is hard to understand how any person, especially a doctor or a nurse, could so blatantly avoid helping another human being.
Based solely on the articles and video, which are from the Schara family’s point of view, I feel that the ethical and moral principles were violated. These articles show an inconsistency in Grace’s care as well as her right to justice and autonomy. There also seemed to be inconsistencies in the information that was being provided to the family regarding her condition.
I do not doubt the reasoning for the Schara family’s beliefs nor do I not feel sympathy for their loss but I cannot help but wonder if Grace had died from any other illness besides Covid would the family still feel as though the hospital and staff intentionally let her die?
‘it’s genocide’: Family alleges ominous conclusion in seeking answers to their daughter’s death. www.theepochtimes.com. (2022, June 27). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.theepochtimes.com/its-genocide-family-alleges-ominous-conclusion-in-seeking-answers-to-their-daughters-death_4537638.html (Links to an external site.)
Our amazing grace: News release – world wide genocide. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.ouramazinggrace.net/NewsReleases/NewsR…
Scott Schara: Pfizer Drugs & Medical Malpractice killed his daughter Grace. UncoverDC. (2022, February 16). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://uncoverdc.com/2022/02/15/scott-schara-pfiz…