Case Study – Ethical Issues
This case study occurs in the oncologist’s office and involves a female 62-year-old leukemia patient, a doctor and his medical assistant.
The ethical issue here is the possible full disclosure of the information to the patient, which is also the medical assistant’s dilemma whether to lie to the patient, as asked by the doctor or tell her the truth.
One of the fundamental values of the medical practice world is that the doctor has an obligation to keep the interest of the patient above everything else, also known as beneficence. The patients’ autonomy should also be respected. They have the right to refuse the treatment if they feel that it is not what they wanted, as well as the right to choose the kind of treatment they prefer, upon receiving the full information on the available options. While informed consent is the legal and ethical right of the patients to participate in the health care exercise, it is also the doctor’s ethical obligation to involve them. In this case study, informed consent plays a major role (Beauchamp, 2001).
The medical assistant has to either tell the patient the truth, that her treatment is a blood sample, or lie to her as ordered by the doctor in order to do the infusion.
Given the doctors basic value to uphold the interest of the patient above everything, it is necessary to use the FFP. However, in order to respect the autonomy of the patient, the medical assistant will have to tell the truth to the patient.
If the medical assistant decides to tell the truth, the use of FFP, which might endanger the patient’s life, might be declined, and that might lead the assistant to losing the job. On the other hand, if she decides to follow the doctor’s instructions, the patient will probably get better, though the assistant’s conscience will not be clear because of the lie (Veatch, 1988).
In my opinion, I would lie to the patient, basing on beneficence, and give my medical assistance. I would not tell her the truth since she might decline the treatment. This will not only save my job but also help the patient despite her beliefs.
- Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2001). Principles of Biomedical Ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Veatch, R. M. (1988). A Theory of Medical Ethics. New York: Basic Books.