Medical Ethics Dilemma: Ethical Theories and Law

Health care provision is increasingly becoming complicated. In modern-day health care provision, certain ethical issues have to be addressed. As such, there are ethical theories that inform health care providers in moral reasoning and judgment regarding the type and healthcare offered. These theories are also connected to legal statutes. In the current case that involves individual rights in healthcare provision, certain theories seem relevant and might help physicians and family in reasoning regarding the patient’s care.

This case is fairly complicated since, under the New York Patient’s Bill Of Rights, patients must receive information on healthcare which would assist them in making decisions about the nature of care offered to them (New York State Department of Health, 2010). Under this provision, the patient, in this case, had indicated a preference to ‘allow natural death’ at home.

Contention arises since there is no party (family member, health care agent or a will) who qualified by law to make decisions on behalf of the patients as required by New York Healthcare Law. As such, the conflict between family members and healthcare providers could only be resolved through ethical reasoning. Suffice to state that certain ethical theories are paramount in this case.

According to the deontological theory of moral reasoning, an act is morally right if it follows given principles, especially regarding human relationships. In determining whether an action is morally right or wrong, the outcomes of that action are subordinated to individual rights, duties, and obligations of all parties involved in the case (OMalley, 2009).

Following the deontological moral reasoning as well as the patient’s rights (Under New York Healthcare Law), the physicians and family are inclined to make the right decision in the patient best interest, while respecting his rights on the care he preferred. As such, they would be compelled to allow the patient to die naturally at home, as he wished.

Deontology is also supported by Relational theory, which requires that decision made should portray the best care, concern, and responsibility concerning the patient (OMalley, 2009). Following this theory, the common law partner is compelled to provide care and concern for the patient at home.

Casuistry is also applicable to this case. Under Casuistry, decision making is case based. This implies that in decision making the case is treated in isolation. Lessons are drawn from previous, but similar cases. Under casuistry, health care providers and family members, in this case, are compelled to look for two previous cases involving the ‘Do Not Resuscitate Order,’ one in which disregarding patients rights was wrong and the other case in which regarding patient’s wishes was the right decision.

The merits and demerits of two previous cases will be weighed Vis a Vis the current case. By drawing lessons from the two previous cases, the patient’s family members as well as the health care providers will have gained crucial information which would enable them to make the morally right decision regarding the patient (Gillette, 2002).

Casuistry should also be considered alongside the rights theory (also consider the New York Healthcare Law on the rights of a patient to be part of health care decision making) which stipulates that people must be treated as ends, and not as a means to an end. This implies that the best decision must be for the best interest of the patient and not for the sake of morality. As such, they are respecting the patient’s right to be allowed to die at home is vital (Ferrie, 2006).

Ethical theories and the law are found to collaborate well in addressing the complexity of this case. While not all ethical theories are applicable, deontology, relations, rights theories, and casuistry seem relevant. Combined with the New York State Law on health care, the patient is most likely to have his rights respected.

Reference List

Ferrie, S. (2006). . Nutritional Clinical Practice. 21(2). Web.

Gillette, M. (2002). Ethics decision strategies: An introduction to doing medical ethics. Bioethical Services of Virginia, Inc. Web.

New York State Department of Health. 2010. Know your rights as a Hospital Patient in New York State. Web.

OMalley, B. (2009). Ethical Theories: Moral reasoning in nursing practice. Web.

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