Ethics and Ethical Decision Making

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Analysis of an Ethical Dilemma {Part 1}
Grand Canyon University
Introduction to the Study of Ethics

Analysis of an Ethical Dilemma {Part 1}
There are times when life takes an unforeseen route, and one is faced with an obstacle or situation that was not expected. Many people are diagnosed with terminal diseases, have accidents and are left with severe impairments, and suffer horrendous complications from medical issues. One has the right, according to law, to make medical decisions about their care and treatment options. But should one have the right to end their life? Assisted, or voluntary euthanasia, is the direct administration of a lethal agent to end one’s life at the request of the patient (Tamayo-Velazquez, Simon-Lorda, & Cruz-Piqueras, 2012, p. 678). Should a person have to intolerably suffer for the duration of their disease or disability, or should they have the right to choose to end their life? Related Ethical Implications and Obligations

Voluntary euthanasia naturally sparks the debate between “morality and legality” (Young, 2010). Ethical implications come with being faced with if assisted euthanasia is morally justified, or if respecting one’s right to make choices about their life, including end of life decisions, supersedes all other aspects of the subject. Nurses are an integral part in end of life care of patients, and often times are witness to those expressing the desire to die. Ethical dilemmas are currently high regarding end of life care in nursing, and would only grow more complicated and severe if assisted euthanasia became legal worldwide, as nurses would not only provide comfort measures, but rather be a part of ending life. Currently, assisted euthanasia is legal in three countries; the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Euthanasia is considered murder in every other place in the world. ("Assisted Suicide & Death with Dignity," 2013). In the United States, there are currently three states, Oregon, Montana, and Washington, where Physician Assisted Suicide, or PAS, is legal. PAS is referred to as the “Death with Dignity Act “and permits doctors to prescribe a lethal overdose to a patient who is expected to die within six months. This decision is totally dependent upon patient wishes, and physicians are not obligated to inform families, only to write the prescription ("Analysis of Assisted Suicide Initiative," 2013). In any other state, assisted suicide is considered manslaughter and is punishable by law. Assisted euthanasia remains a hot topic worldwide, and aims to pass laws are constantly challenged. Ethical Theories Ethical decisions are always difficult for the nurse to make in a challenging situation Confidentiality and privacy are part of ethical issues but can raise confusion as to the best direction of an action for a nurse to take. There is a need for nurses to know that patient obligations and laws concerning privacy and confidentiality matters. Healthcare has the HIPAA law that guides patient’s privacy (HIPAA. ORG, 2008) which is essential for nurses to understand the pertinent guidelines or rules on confidentiality so as to carry out their practices based on the law guidelines. The code of ethics states, “The nurse advocates for, promotes and strives towards safety, health and the patients’ rights (ANA, 2010). (ANA, 2010) stated that Deontology theory is helpful for the nurse to judges the morality of an action based on the action's adherence to rules. Whether an action is ethical depends on the intentions behind the decisions rather than the outcomes that result. Beneficence represents compassion on the other hand, taking positive action to help others and desire to do good which is the core principle of our patient advocacy. (Butts, J. B., & Rich, K. L, 2008). Autonomy theory help nurses respect and honor a patients or clients right to make a course...