Moral Conflict With Ethical Principles And Laws Suicidal Cancer Patient Tells Nurse Intentions Ethics And Law Of Health Case Study

2568 words - 11 pages

HLTH3000: Case Study
Written Assessment

A 57-year-old male patient is suffering from late stage prostate cancer and is currently in care of the oncology department at a general hospital in Brisbane, Queensland. He was diagnosed seven years ago by a urologist, but refused conventional medical intervention and chose to seek alternative treatment. Since this diagnosis, his current admission to the hospital was due to anemia and hypoproteinemia, which was attributed to his inadequately treated prostate cancer. Several diagnostic tests were completed and it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized to his bones, proximal lymph nodes and that the primary tumor was invading his bladder and obstructing his left kidney. He was given a 4-6-week life expectancy, due to the severity of his cancer, as shown in multiple test results. His oncologist and urologist determined that medical treatment was futile and palliative care was the only appropriate option. Within care of the hospital, the patient expressed to a female nurse that he plans to commit suicide and asked the nurse to keep this information confidential [1].
Introduction
This case study analysis aims to formulate an ethically and legally sound decision of action, regarding information that the patient has shared with the nurse. This clinical case is considered an ethical dilemma; defined as an instance whereby an individual must make a choice between two or more morally correct and mutually exclusive options [2]. In the circumstance that the nurse abides by the patient?s wishes not to share his suicidal intentions, his confidentiality and autonomy is respected [3, 4]. Conversely, this choice may result in the patient successfully committing suicide. Alternatively, if the nurse acts upon the information shared by the patient, a potential suicide could be prevented. This choice however, would dishonor the patient?s wishes. Consequently, the central ethical question becomes the following; should the nurse act upon the patient?s confidential information, without consent, to prevent his suicide? It is evident that the nurse has two mutually exclusive choices; each option will violate the ethical and legal justifications of the other [2]. Through the application of principle based ethics, utilitarian ethics, appropriate laws and guidelines for this case; a decision of action for the nurse will be justified.
Principle Based Ethics Analysis
Principle based ethics, theorized by Immanuel Kant, involves four moral principles; autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. He argued that for any morally impermissible behavior, consideration of these moral principles will provide an explanation. According to Kant, all principles must be considered equally as one does not take priority over the other [2]. In this specific case, the moral principles of autonomy, beneficence and non-maleficence are in conflict.
According to Friedman [5], autonomy is ?a form of personal liberty of action in which...

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