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Case Analysis Public Health Vs. Privacy Rights, In Neonatal Hiv Testing

1907 words - 8 pages

Dr. Tremblay's case is basically a classical ethical debate, where the question is asked: do the needs of the few, outweigh the rights of the many? In this case the "many" is comprised of thirty-seven babies, and their mothers, anonymously tested for HIV, and the "few" is an anonymous baby from the group, suspected of having neonatal HIV. Tremblay hoped to find this baby and deliver treatment (as well as giving treatment to the mother), but in doing so he would violate the right to anonymity that the other thirty-six mothers and babies are legally entitled to. At the end of the synopsis explaining Dr. Tremblay's plight, he has gone ahead and started to order named tests (breaking the anonymity). In this analysis I am trying to discern whether or not Dr. Tremblay was ethically and legally justified in his actions by using three tests: 1) the consequentalist/utilitarian test, 2) the deontological test, and 3) the Supreme Court's Three-Pronged Test.The utilitarian test, as follows with utilitarianism, is fairly simple: weight the benefits and the consequences of Dr. Tremblay's action - this includes both probably short-term and long-term effects, as well as possible near and far reaching consequences of such an action. Since Dr. Tremblay is not directly trying to harm anyone, and as a doctor, it is safe to assume that he has chosen his profession to help people, his action is first and foremost (in his eyes) to benefit the health of the infected baby. Therefore, I will first examine the benefits of his action(s).Obviously, Dr. Tremblay would be able to find the infected baby/mother if he is allowed to perform named retests of the thirty-seven babies/mothers. With the named results he will be able to determine which is infected, and provide them with treatment. It is possible as well, that with the retesting Dr. Tremblay may find another case of infection (because of the difficulty associated with false-negatives/positives), and provide care for another mother/baby. Since the affected parties will now be aware of their infection, this will help stop the spread of HIV (at least from this point), whereas if the mother were not aware, she could spread the infection to others. Dr. Tremblay is breaking the law, and he must be aware of this. To do so then, if it comes under question or before the law, would set a precedent for named testing in cases such as this. In addition to policy, Dr. Tremblay is making a point of calling HIV an epidemic and is utilizing this reasoning to advance the policy to named testing. Thus his actions could lead to a heightened awareness or new recognition of HIV as an epidemic both from a public opinion and legislative (i.e. funding and new laws) standpoint. With his own personal mission, Dr. Tremblay is making his first attempt at stopping the epidemic, as he states: "You do something-you do whatever-to interrupt the progress of the disease." And from his action, he is taking the first steps at stopping the epidemic, and also...

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