Part Two: Case Analysis
A forty-eight year old female patient was brought into the emergency department with petechiae/purpura distributed over her skin. Her husband reported that she started to bleed from her nostrils and mouth. She suddenly appeared to have had what seemed to be unexplained bruises on her body and was semi comatose. In a state of panic, her husband brought her to the emergency department. With a heart rate of 180, her blood pressure was 60/24 and she was going into endotoxic shock. She received emergency care that made her stable enough to be transferred to the ICU where she became conscious and able to communicate. The medical team explained the seriousness of her condition and their plans for her treatment but she declined their proposal for further care and complained about inadequate insurance coverage for that hospital. She further professed her faith in God for divine healing. The medical team was then faced with offering this patient treatment regardless of her ability to pay to avoid the imminent danger of her leaving the hospital at that time. Medical Indications
This forty eight year old female patient, who had no medical history in this hospital was diagnosed with Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC). DIC is a rare, life-threatening condition that prevents normal blood clotting in an individual. A treatment refusal or decline may hasten the disease process resulting in excessive clotting (thrombosis) or bleeding (hemorrhage) throughout the body leading to shock, organ failure or even death. Prognosis varies depending on the underlying disorder and the extent of clotting. Regardless of the cause, the prognosis is often poor, with 10-50% of patients dying. The goal of treatment is to stop bleeding and prevent death. According to WebMD (2007), in DIC, the body’s natural ability to regulate clotting does not function properly. This causes the platelets to clump and clog small blood vessels throughout the body. This excessive clotting damages organs, destroys blood cells, and depletes the supply of platelets and other clotting factors so that the blood is no longer able to clot normally. This often causes widespread bleeding, both internally and externally, a condition that can be reversed if treatment is carried out promptly. Current indication for treatment include interventions such as transfusion of blood cells and other blood products to replace what has been lost through bleeding. Numerous tests to establish the probable cause of this condition have to be done because it is usually a first symptom of a disease such as cancer or it could be triggered by another major health problem. Patient Preferences
The patient is informed of the benefits of follow up interventions after emergency care as well as the likelihood of losing functions of major organs and even death without following interventions being implemented. The principle of autonomy comes to play since it is her right to choose where, when and how she gets her health care. Based on the medical report and her personal reasons for deciding to leave the hospital against medical advice, there seems to be no evidence that she is mentally incapable. There is also no justification in disregarding her requests nevertheless, it is doubtful if she actually understands and appreciates the situation. Her preferences were to be signed AMA (against medical advice) so she can find cheaper, alternative care. Her husband, who was present with her, tried to convince her to accept the teams’ proposal but she insisted that she could not afford it. In my opinion, the patient decision was as a result of her ignorance of what choices was available to her.
Quality of life
The quality of life for this patient is severely compromised because of the symptoms associated with this diagnosis (bleeding, syncope, weakness, shortness of breath, etc). As stated earlier, DIC could be as a result of an underlying disease such as cancer. If...
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Because Patient Autonomy Does Not Always Come First. The American Journal of Bioethics, 7(7): 33–38, 2007. Retrieved from http://mcr.sagepub.com.proxy.medlib.iupui.edu/content/early/2012/10/31/1077558712461952.long
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