Healthcare Ethical Dilemma



Physician /Family member’s name


Reference: Ethical Dilemma regardingCarrie’s Case.

Following a grisly motor accident on, Mrs.Carrie Matheson was admitted in our hospital under the referencenumber 67/9569/15. She has been in a vegetative state for a month nowand she is proving unresponsive to medication. Based on theprevailing statistical data, the chances of her recovery are veryslim (less than 1%). However, there is a looming ethical dilemmaregarding her condition. Her parents believe that she can recover ifaggressive medical care continues. Their argument is that themiracles that are beyond the comprehension of science do happen. Onthe other hand, her husband, Mr. Bob Matheson claims that she shouldbe put off life support because it is against her wishes. She doesnot have a living will or an identified medical power of attorney.

As members of the Ethics committee it is ourrecommendation that Mrs. Matheson be taken off life support for thefollowing reasons. The chances of her recovery from the vegetativestate, even in the most sophisticated facilities, are very slim. Anyprolonged care will lead to more medical expenses for the family.Based on her husband’s stance, it seems they had already talkedabout the best step to take in the event something like thishappened. It is only fair to grant her wishes. Finally, the patientis suffering and our actions of trying to force her to endure it arewrong. Without the machines she would not be suffering.

The ethical problem in this case is that theact of giving and taking life is not upon the hands of human beings.Technically, she is still alive because her heart beats. It should beknown that getting her out of the life support system is practicallythe same as taking away her life. On the contrary, it is thepatient’s wish that she does not spend a single day on lifesupport. Putting her life support is against her wishes and unfair atthe same time.

Issues such as this one have become more commonnowadays with a good example being that of a lady named TerriSchiavo, who died after a decade of tube feeding (Cooper, 2012). InSchiavo’s case, the matter was complicated by a legal tusslebetween the husband and her own her parents. Similar to this case,her husband wanted her off the life support machine while the parentsopposed. She died before the courts could make a ruling. The issue oflife support, is still a subject of debate that is far from over.Different groups of people hold different opinions regarding thematter.

The alternative option is to go against herwishes and put her on life support until she recovers or becomescardiac dead. This option will require the consent of her familymembers despite their differing opinions. The likely aftermath ofthis decision is that it will cause emotional torture on the family.However, the ethics committee strongly recommends that the lifesupport machine be switched off.

To implement this decision, we will educate thefamily on a few issues. Top on the list would be to make themunderstand that Carrie’s heart is only beating because of themechanical support afforded by the machines. Without the machines,She would be cardiac dead as well. We will also inform the familythat her life is only prolonged by the machines and chances ofrecovery are very slim.


The Ethics Committee


Cooper, R.J., (2012). Making the case forethical decision- making models. Nurseprescribing 10 (12) 607- 611