Case Study Analysis:
The patient,MMMM, needs a blood transfusion and possibly surgery to save her life as well as the life of her unborn child related to an injury she sustained from a motor vehicle accident. The patient does not want to receive blood products or surgery. The patient's reluctance is related to her faith, which is based upon biblical scripture pertaining to blood. The primary ethical issue in this case is the patient's right to autonomy. There is another dilemma in this case and that is the unborn child is at an increased risk of death should the patient decide against the transfusion or surgery. When an adult refuses a blood transfusion related to religious beliefs despite receiving the information of benefit versus risks, it is considered an informed decision. However, a parent that refuses a blood transfusion for their child based upon this same belief may face legal charges of abuse or neglect and a judicial decision will be made (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2007, p. 456). This raises a precarious ethical dilemma for the health care team related to the principle of the autonomous rights of Juana as well as the principle of beneficence toward her unborn child.
Beneficence is defined as doing or promoting good, preventing harm, and removing evil or harm (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2007, p. 62). At what point does the nurse's duty to prevent harm surpass the patient's right to autonomy. This case would likely go before the court taking the decision from the patient as well as the health care providers ruling in favor of the best interest of the unborn child. The use of the ethical theory Deontology and a rationalist school of thought might ease the decision making process for the nurse.
The patient refusing treatment is based upon her religious beliefs and fear. Rationalists believe that there are absolute truths concerning right and wrong, which are not dependent upon people's feelings and perceptions. These truths are necessary and take precedence over the feelings and perceptions of people. It is good to help those in need and the truth in this will not sway based upon different circumstances or perceptions (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2007, p. 31-32). In this situation it is absolutely true that without treatment, the patient will continue to bleed internally, which will eventually lead to her death as well as the death of the unborn child. Viewing this case through a deontological lens will guide the health care providers in this situation to the right course of action.
The ethical theory of Deontology aligns with the rationalist viewpoint in that determining the right and wrong of an action "depends upon the nature of the act, rather than its consequences"(Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2007, p. 39). Deontology means duty. Nurses have a duty to uphold the ethical principle of autonomy and beneficence while avoiding nonmaleficence. According to deontology, the knowledge of moral rules is universal and found by way of reason and not based...