Relection Paper Assignment
Ethics: Philosopy 2306
May 7, 2009
Euthanasia (from the Greek ευθανασία meaning "well death": ευ-, eu- (well or good) + θάνατος, thanatos (death)) refers to the practice of ending a life in a painless manner.1 Euthanasia may be conducted with or without consent. Involuntary euthanasia is conducted when another individual makes a decision for a person that is uncapable of doing so. Voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide have been the focus of great controversy in recent years, especially amongst families of the euthanized patients and their lawyers. The outcome of euthanizing a patient is a great debate that will in the end profoundly affect family relationships, the interaction between doctors and patients and ideas of basic ethical behavior. It a subject with so much at stake depending on the end conclusion. “The decision can be made based on what the incapacitated individual would have wanted, or it could be made on substituted judgment of what the decision maker would want were he or she in the incapacitated person's place, or finally, the decision could be made by assessing objectively whether euthanasia is the most beneficial course of treatment. In any case, euthanasia by proxy consent is highly controversial, especially because multiple proxies may claim the authority to decide for the patient and may or may not have explicit consent from the patient to make that decision.”2
In our case study we have a young man in his early twenties. He and his father were unfortunately standing too close to a gas pipeline the exploded, which left him severely burned over 90 percent of his body, which also resulted in lost of his vision and hearing. Lying there in misery, a passerby saw him in such despair that he called emergency services and refused to assist him in dying. Upon arrival to the Emergency Room, I evaluate his status and immediately start to triage and treat him. For this young man, time is very valuable. As a physician in the Emergency Room, I have been taught and schooled on saving people’s lives. Its part of the job, making sure that no one dies on my watch. My goal at this moment is to stabilize this severely injured patient and gather the facts of the accident.
I so far know that the patient is in his early twenties, he is a physically active individual, athletic, and he has a family. At this time I know that he was with his father. He has no living will. I also know that he is suffering a lot due to the severity of the accident and he is pleading for me to assist him in dying. His family hearing their son’s pleading is now unsure of what measure to take next. I know that my patient came in with hearing and vision lost, but I don’t know if there is actually any permanent damage done until the patient is stabilized and gets further exams done. I also know that he does still have some mental capacity because he asked the passerby to shoot him. Knowing the full extent of the injury takes time, and my objective is to save him. He is in severe pain right now, and to me not mentally capable of making an objective decision on his own life. Timing is everything, until we know how bad the patient actually is there is no way to know how bad the situation really is.
In order to have a final complete vision of the situation going on, I need to ask the family further questions. Does the patient have a family, he has a father that we know of, but my real question is whether or not he is married? If he is, does he have children? Is he a Christian, has he been saved? The patient is athletic, is he in college? What did he do for a living? Has he ever had any psychological problems? What does the family want to do? Who is the right person to make the decision on the injured individual? Who determines the patients life, and who is the person that if the patient ends...