Ethics in End of Life Care

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Ethics in end of life care
Sarah Woodrum
When dealing with the decisions of end of life care, as a nurse, one should consider many things. The major issue to contemplate is if prolonging the life of such patients is either more or less beneficial to the patient. Three things one should consider in the case of the patient whose wishes are unknown to the family are, are the measures that are taken more painful than the disease process itself, would the patient live longer than expected in pain caused by the disease or illness, and should the patients or families wishes be honored.

In the case of this patient, intubation is required to save her life. Intubation as well as other measures used to prolong life can be painful and add suffering rather than eliminate it from a patient’s life. According to Carolyn Hays, PhD, RN “If it is determined that an intervention would be of more harm than benefit to a patient, then it is ethically justifiable to withhold (forgo) or withdraw (discontinue) it”. An assumption that can be made is that the procedure will actually save the patient therefore proving beneficial because it prolongs the patient’s life.

Another consideration to be accounted for is if the procedure to prolong life was withheld, would the patient pass away quickly or would they live longer than expected. If the patient does not pass away quickly due to complications of the illness or disease process they could live longer in pain and suffering. An assumption that one could make would be that because of the measure to prolong life being withheld the patient will pass away due to complications quickly. This assumption would make it more beneficial to withhold the intervention. One last consideration, and perhaps the most important one, is if the patient’s or families wishes should be honored. Hays states “However, ethical conflicts can arise when...
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