Health Care Ethics

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The Bartling case was about whether William Bartling had the right, over the objection of his physicians and the hospital, to have life-support equipment disconnected despite the fact that withdrawal of such devices will surely hasten his death. When he entered Glendale Adventist Hospital in California in 1984, he was known to be suffering from emphysema and diffuse arteriosclerosis, coronary arteriosclerosis, abdominal aneurysm, and inoperable lung cancer. At the end, He had to use mechanical respiratory and chest tube to assist his breathing in the ICU. Although each of these conditions could individually be lethal, he was not diagnosed as terminally ill. At first, Mr. Bartling asked his physicians to remove the ventilator but they refused. Then Mr. Bartling attempted to remove the ventilator tubes but was unsuccessful. Eventually, to prevent his attempt, he was placed in restraints so that the tubes could remain in place. The case was taken to Los Angeles Superior Court by Mr. Scott. Because he was not considered terminally ill, the court refused either to allow the respirator to be disconnected or to order that Mr. Bartling’s hands be freed. At the second time, the case was taken to the California Court of Appeal. However, the result was that Mr. Bartling had the right to make his own decision, which was obviously different with the first time. So I think the main issue in this case is about patient’s decision-making capacity, specifically, when patient is able to make make the decision of his own medical treatments.
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