HLT 520 Week8 DQ1

A baby is born with anencephaly, or absence of the entire brain above the brainstem. The brainstem is intact, which means that the baby can breathe and have a heart beat and blood pressure, but there is no chance for any human brain function or cognition, due to this birth defect. The health care team begins to educate the mother, since children with this deficit generally die shortly after birth. However, the mother is devoutly religious, and her minister has told her that if she prays hard enough to God, that God will work a miracle and her baby’s brain will heal itself. She is insistent that all possible care be given to her baby, including a months-long stay in the ICU, constant care by a caregiver, regular brain scans, and other expensive modalities. The hospital, finding her adamant, asks the court for guardianship of the baby, with the medical plan to provide only maintenance care with no life-prolonging techniques until the baby dies. What are the ethical issues at play here? How do the principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmalfeasance, and justice manifest themselves? If you were called as an ethical consultant, what would you do/recommend?

GCU HLT 520 Week 8 Discussion 2

A 94-year-old woman is admitted to your hospital with dehydration, trouble breathing, and possible kidney failure. She is clearly in advanced Alzheimer’s, weighs about 95 pounds, and shows multiple bruises on her body. She cannot talk. Her caregiver attributes the bruises to a blood disorder that reduces clotting. What are your thoughts about this situation? What kind of investigation would you conduct? What actions would you take to be in compliance with ethical principles.

The ethical issues at play in the case of the baby with anencephaly include autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice.

Autonomy: The mother’s religious beliefs and her desire for all possible care to be given to her baby reflect her autonomy and her right to make decisions regarding her child’s care. However, there is a conflict between her autonomy and the medical team’s assessment that no treatment will improve the baby’s condition.

Beneficence: The principle of beneficence requires healthcare professionals to act in the best interest of the patient. In this case, the healthcare team believes that the best interest of the baby would be to provide only maintenance care, as the baby’s condition is terminal with no chance of recovery or improvement.

Nonmaleficence: Nonmaleficence refers to the duty to do no harm. In this situation, the healthcare team may argue that subjecting the baby to unnecessary medical interventions and prolonging the suffering would be against the principle of nonmaleficence.

Justice: The principle of justice involves treating individuals fairly and equitably. The hospital’s request for guardianship and the decision to provide only maintenance care until the baby’s natural death may be seen as an attempt to allocate limited healthcare resources fairly and prioritize other patients who could benefit from intensive care.

As an ethical consultant, I would recommend a multi-disciplinary discussion involving the mother, medical professionals, and possibly a mediator or counselor. It would be important to listen to the mother’s perspective and concerns while also providing her with accurate medical information regarding the baby’s condition and prognosis. The goal would be to find a middle ground that respects the mother’s autonomy and religious beliefs while considering the best interest of the baby. This may involve exploring alternative forms of support for the mother during the baby’s limited lifespan, such as counseling or spiritual guidance. It would also be important to consider the allocation of limited healthcare resources and the potential harm to other patients if intensive care resources are disproportionately allocated to a situation where there is no chance of improvement.

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