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Ethical Dilemmas 2


Ethical Dilemmas 2

A woman enters the emergency room with stomach pain. She undergoes a CT scan and is diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a condition in which the wall of the aorta becomes weak in a certain point causing it to stretch and bulge.

The physicians inform her that the only way to fix the problem is by surgery, and that the chances of survival are about 50/50. They also inform her that time is of the essence, and that she would be dead in a few short minutes in case the aneurysm bursts. The woman is an erotic dancer; she refuses any surgical treatment because she is worried that the surgery will leave a scar that will affect her work negatively. Even after much pressuring from the physicians, she adamantly refuses surgery. The surgeons decide to perform the procedure without consent because they feel that the woman is not in her correct state of mind and they know that time is of the essence. They anesthetize her and surgically repair the aneurysm. She survives, and sues the hospital for millions of dollars.

 

Questions:

  • Do you believe that the actions of the physicians can be justified in any way?
  • Could they have done anything else?
  • Is it ever okay to take someone’s autonomy away? Would a court order make the decisions of the physicians ethical?
  • If you were one of the health care workers, what would you have done?

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Prepared By: Dr. Mehyar Al-Khashroum
Edited By: Miss Araz Kahvedjian


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