Everyday humans face ethical dilemmas; with each of these situations we must make moral choices. It is often difficult to confront ethical dilemmas and moral choices as they tend to unearth the rawest of our human emotions. This paper will discuss the ethical dilemmas brought on by the case of Jonathon, a 22-year-old male quadriplegic, diagnosed as a diabetic during childhood ("Quality of life case study - Session #1," n.d., para. 1). This case study raises many ethical issues; however this paper will focus on three. The main ethical dilemma questions both autonomy and competence: is Jonathon capable of making his own medical decisions? From there we must ask another vital question: should his family have a say in his treatment? Jonathon’s quality of life raises the third question: without medical intervention will he die? This paper will focus on two ethical perspectives that will be further discussed throughout the paper:
1) My perspective: a 30-year-old female nursing student, married, with children. My perspective on this case is based on moral decision-making.
2) Ethical egoism perspective: In which the moral choice of this case is based on self-interest (Rae, 2009, p. 67).
The personal story of an ethical case is often a driving factor behind our moral choices; causing each individual to look internally at their own values and virtues. Jonathon’s case is no different, the story behind the case is essential to understanding the choices made:
While at a fraternity party 18 months ago, Jonathon fell head first from a balcony; leaving him quadriplegic below the neck, ventilator dependent, and in need of assistance for basic functions. He sees himself as a burden and feels ashamed that his foolish behavior has created such daily struggle and expense for his parents. Whether by his personal choice or others, he has cut ties with all friends. Jonathon recently became ill, being admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. He was placed on IV antibiotics; however he is refusing to take his insulin and oral medications, requesting only treatment for pain. His father has stated, “I think Jonathan has decided that he has suffered enough. You can imagine what life must be like for someone who has no feeling below his neck but has a very sharp brain.” ("Quality of life case study - Session #1," n.d.).
Is Jonathon capable of making his own medical decisions?
Autonomy refers to a patient’s right to give informed consent for treatment (Rae, 2009, p. 112). Jonathon’s case is one of autonomy; who has the right to decide for him? According to Family Caregiver Alliance (2000), “you have the right to make your own decisions about your care” (para. 14). In this case, qualified medical staff have determined that Jonathan is mentally competent and perfectly capable of making a rational decision ("Quality of life case study - Session #1," n.d., para. 3). The fact is that he is capable of making his own medical decisions; from my perspective there is nothing...