Health policy, law and ethics essay

Topics: Ethics, Decision making, Autonomy Pages: 9 (1780 words) Published: May 10, 2014
Law and Ethics essay
For the purpose of this assignment I will look at the legal and ethical aspects involved in the following scenario and this will be discussed. I will take into consideration both the deontological and consequentialism theory. Laws relevant to this scenario will be looked at. Scenario

To maintain confidentiality the name of the patient has been changed. The patient D is 60 years old male who had kidney cancer he had been admitted to the hospital for further treatment. On the following investigation the patient had been diagnosed with the last stages of cancer which meant it had spread into the surrounding tissue. Prognoses were poor, palliative was to be offered. The family had requested that the patient should not be informed therefore, D was not aware about his current condition. The patient could not understand why medical staff only made him comfortable and were not taking a different approach to his treatment. Consequently, he lost faith in the staff and his will to live and refused everything that was given to him. The nurses made a decision to inform him of his terminal illness, believing this to be in his best interest. He understood the situation and expressed a wish to die at home. Legal aspects

The situation that the nurses faced in this scenario was uncomfortable for both the patient and the healthcare professionals. The nurses had a dilemma of legal and ethical aspects on one hand, and patient’s legal rights on other hand. In any discussion of ethical issues in medicine, legal aspects may arise. Both of them set standards of conduct, where law often shows a “kind of minimal ethical societal consensus” (Emanuel 1999, p2). The study of law expresses a process of legal thinking and applying legal doctrine to the real-life situation in the healthcare setting (Flight and Meacham 2011). A deontology comes from the Greek term “deon”, meaning “duty” (Jones and Beck 1996). White and Baldwin (2004) state, deontological is fundamental in medicine as it means “do no harm” and “act in the patients’ best interest” (p.54). Using deontology approach in this case, healthcare providers were following the rule “Act in the patients’ best interest”. The problem that occurred in this situation is that it was difficult for the healthcare professionals as from a legal point of view the patient had a right to know the truth if he wish. The NHS Constitution (2013) states, that a patient has the right “to be involved in discussions and decisions about his the health and care, including end of life care, and they be given information to enable the patient to do this” (p.9). Healthcare professionals were acting according to the Hippocratic Oath and following a set of rules, which are established as a framework of the NHS. One of the rules states, that nurses must “safeguard and promote interests of individual patients and client” (Tingle and Cribb 2007, p.16). Medical professionals must always act in the best interest of the patient. However, difficulty may be experienced in certain situations as the borderline between legal issues and ethics is narrow. The important professional concept of nursing is accountability for their actions to deliver appropriate care for their patients. This accountability is applicable in the legal context and important professionally, it is based on knowledge and understanding. Therefore, legally it is closely related to negligence and duty of care (Young 1995). In this scenario the nurses felt that they were acting as an advocate for the patient by following the rules. Montgomery (1995), state that accountability, responsibility and duty of care are closely linked. Irrespective of professional standing responsibilities, healthcare staff are still accountable, with regard to duty of care within the expectation of their job (Fletcher and Buka 1999). In this case, the patient’s anxiety could have been alleviated if he had been fully informed of the severity of his...

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