Deontologist Discussion Post
Use the perspective of a deontologist. Here’s the case: Terry Shaw is a cancer researcher who is on the verge of discovering genetic findings that will aid in early detection of breast cancer. He has been personally battling AIDS and has a serious relapse. He may regain some function if he is given a particular antibiotic, but his immune system is severely depressed and without immediate antibiotics he will die. Becky Muterspaugh has just completed a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is job-hunting. Though she is otherwise healthy, her appendix ruptures and she becomes very ill. Becky urgently requires the same antibiotic that Terry does in order to fight a severe infection and have a chance to live. Both patients are hospitalized at an isolated hospital in a mountainous region which is temporarily cut off from all transportation and delivery systems for at least one week due to severe weather. The hospital has only enough of the antibiotic to effectively treat one of the two patients. What would you do? from the perspective of a deontologist explain the ethical dilemma (there are always 2 sides that pose a choice in ethical dilemmas and the rationale of why they are uncomfortable choices due to outcomes), why you made that decision using the ethical principles (autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence,veracity, confidentiality, justice, fidelity. Note that each side of the dilemma will have its own unique ethical principle. Per the readings some principles are opposing (like beneficence and nonmaleficence – thus, if you use beneficence for one side, nonmaleficence should apply to the other side).
From a deontologist perspective, I would treat Terry Shaw who is a cancer researcher and his genetic findings might help in the early detection of breast cancer. The ethical dilemma is serious as it leaves the physician with two difficult decisions. Deontological ethics argues that the decisions should made based on the rightness and the wrongness of the actions rather than the consequences (Lyu, & Zhang, 2018). Other ethical approach will consider the consequences of the decisions. However, in our case, the moral considerations of the actions were more important making it recommendable to treat the cancer researcher with the remaining antibiotics because the decision would be beneficial in saving more lives in future.
On the other hand, Becky Muterspaugh deserves to get the same antibiotic treatment because she has just completed a Ph. D in philosophy. Her education would have significant impact on the society. She is very young and with her education, she would be able to help people to understand their lives better. She is healthy unlike Shaw who is suffering from AIDS. However, she is very ill and has only a chance of living. Terry might benefit from the antibiotics in fighting the severe infection from the appendix ruptures. This implies there is no guarantee that Becky will be fully healed due to her condition. The decision will rely on the current facts and how they could impact the society to take the right action. As such, there is a dilemma whether it is the right decision to use the antibiotics in treating her.
Terry Shaw is an accomplished cancer researcher and her work would help in the discovery of genetic findings and outcomes that would help in the early detection of breast cancer. Currently, she has been battling with AIDS and often he has some serious relapse. Shaw would be able to recover some function when given a certain antibiotic. However, his immune system is severely depressed and if the antibiotics is not given immediately, he would die. The decision to give Shaw the antibiotics is to prevent him from dying and use his cancer research work in saving people from breast cancer. Barlow, Hargreaves and Gillibrand (2018) notes that the early detection of breast cancer is useful and increases the chances of saving the infected persons. The decision was difficult because Shaw was ready suffering from AIDS and he would eventually die while, Becky is healthy. In contrast, Becky might not die if she does not get the antibiotic. I believe that Shaw is worthy saving due to his contribution to the cancer research and prevent his death.
The decision to treat Terry Shaw rather than Becky Muterspaugh is supported by the various ethical principles. The principle of autonomy calls for the physicians to make the right choices. The decision focused on self-governance of the physicians in making the right decision in adherence to the moral standards (Lyu, & Zhang, 2018). Fidelity principle demands that the physicians should act in good faith to honor their responsibilities and relationships. The physician is expected to make difficult ethical decisions such as defining who lives. Integrity of the physicians is important in making good decisions. As a medical physician, I will ensure that the antibiotic dosage is given to one patient only to ensure the quality of the treatment. This determines the moral values and ability to focus on the needs of the patients.
The opposing ethical principles to the decision to give the antibiotics to one patient is the beneficence ethical principle. Beneficence demands that the physicians should work in benefiting the patients and improving their welfare. However, the decision does not seem to take care of one patient, which is unethical and immoral based on the beneficence principle (Barlow, et al., 2018). Also, veracity principle emphasizes on the fiduciary responsibility of the medical practitioners to provide accurate information to the patients. The decision should be communicated to Becky to ensure that she understands the diagnosis and the treatment options.
Barlow, N. A., Hargreaves, J., & Gillibrand, W. P. (2018). Nurses’ contributions to the resolution of ethical dilemmas in practice. Nursing ethics, 25(2), 230-242.
Lyu, C., & Zhang, L. (2018). Who decides in withdrawal of treatment in a critical care setting? A case study on ethical dilemma. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 5(3), 310-314.
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