Ethical Decision Making in Health Care
May 01, 2011
Analysis of Ethical Dilemma from Current Events
There are many types of ethical dilemmas that plague the medical field but never is a dilemma more important than when dealing with life and death. In situations such as these, one must follow their own moral compass. When the case involves an entire hospital going against their religious mandates for the life of a woman, the decision becomes that much more difficult. This paper will analyze the situation one Phoenix hospital found themselves in and the repercussions it suffered because of it decision. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona is a hospital internationally recognized for their neurology department. They have treated high profile patients such as Brett Michaels and Muhammad Ali, but neither has gained the hospital quite the publicity as a woman seeking treatment in November 2009. Alongside neurology, St. Joseph’s Hospital also has a noted obstetrics department and this is where the woman was treated. In late November 2009, a terminally ill woman came to the obstetrics unit suffering from pulmonary hypertension. She was 11 weeks pregnant. During the course of diagnosis, it was found that the pregnancy was exacerbating her illness by worsening her hypertension to the point of placing the patient in immediate danger of death. Doctors determined the only course of action to save the woman was to abort her pregnancy. With St. Joseph’s being a Catholic hospital, this decision went against their guidelines. The decision was taken before an ethics committee which decided to proceed with the procedure. The rationale for the committee’s choice was that they were seeking specifically “to save the woman’s life, not to end the pregnancy.”(Clancy, 2010, p. 1) As a result of performing the procedure, the hospital was stripped of its Catholic status. The problem...