Ethical dilemmas result from having two or more possible morally correct decisions. These places the person charged with making the decision at a dilemma on which one to choose (Purtilo & Doherty, 2015). The two or more decisions that need to be made can each lead to different outcomes, adding to the precariousness of the situation. These kinds of the dilemma are acted upon depending on a person’s beliefs and values and can be approached differently by different people. This paper seeks to explore the application of an ethical framework in a case scenario of an ethical dilemma.
The Ethical Dilemma
The dilemma in this case scenario is the right action the physician should take concerning the treatment of the baby. The fact that the child is six years old makes the patient a minor and according to the law, the physician has to obtain consent from the parents or guardian before carrying on with the procedure. However, in this case, the child is under the custody of a non-biological mother who is denying her the medical help by citing religious beliefs. On the other hand, the biological father wants the child to get treatment even though he is not the primary custodian of the child. The dilemma is therefore on which decision should be followed considered the child is suffering from a life-threatening condition.
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The two contrasting views described above on the child’s health care cause the ethical dilemma. The mother as the primary custodian has the right to make the decision for the child not to receive treatment. The father also has a right to help the child to seek treatment for the condition. Both of the options on the table would result in totally different outcomes. The healthcare practitioners will require the help of a decision-making model so that they can handle the dilemma with a level-headed approach. Making a wrong decision can be detrimental to the patient or go against regulations (Hunink et al., 2014).
The Decision-Making Model
Ethical dilemma like the one described above are common in the workplace and thus necessitating ethical theories and models for guidance. The models can be used by the healthcare practitioners to address these dilemmas such as in the case of the child and the two parents with conflicting decisions. The decision-making model that will be utilized in this scenario is the Uustal decision-making model. The decision-making model suggests nine steps that should be followed in the making of ethical decisions.
The steps are as follows: The first step for the healthcare team to do is to decide on the objectives and what achievement they aim to arrive at. The second thing is to conduct a survey of the options presented so as to ascertain the viability of each. The next step is to factor in personal values, other options, and the outcomes of the decisions at hand. The implications and significance of making a particular decision are then examined. The fifth step is preparation in terms of time and energy for the resolution of the dilemma. The next step is to select a strategic decision-making plan. The seventh step is to pinpoint alternatives to focus on. In the eighth step, the options are evaluated, and expertise supported sought for where necessary. The last step is making a decision on the ethical dilemma so as to solve it effectively (Welch, 2002).
Use of the Model to Solve the Dilemma
In the first step of the model, the objectives of the model would be to help solve the dilemma and decide and thus achieve an ethical decision on whether to offer treatment to the child or not. The team should then evaluate the two options presented. In this step, the child’s history and relationship to the two parents should be assessed to determine the most viable option. The team should then factor in personal values in their practice. They should, however, avoid being driven by emotion since this poses problems in many ethical decisions. They should also look at the possible outcomes of their decisions. For instance, if they take the mother’s opinion, the child might die due to the gravity of the condition.
The team should then prepare their time and energy in line with the decision they are likely to settle on. A strategic decision-making plan should then be selected. The selected plan should be able to incorporate all the options and offer valid explanations for the conclusive decision. In this case, the team would decide that the child should receive the treatment. This option is then evaluated, and expert advice, and support sorted. In this case, it would be vital to inquire whether the biological father, regardless of not being the chief custodian, can make the right decision on the health of the baby. Support should also be sought from higher authority in the medical facility in the appropriate actions. The final decision can then be reached that is not only beneficial to the child, but is also in accordance with the law.
Explanation of the Decision to the Family
The decision of the team to offer the treatment should be communicated to both the mother and the father. This is necessary since they both need to know the actions of their child. Below is a dialogue that can be used to present the solution to the ethical dilemma.
The healthcare facility has deliberated and explored both the options presented and has opted to go with the father’s decisions. This has been done in accordance with ethics and regulation within healthcare. It is wrong for the mother to deny the child healthcare on the grounds of religion. Several things could result from such a move, including the deterioration of the child’s health and death. Meningitis is a lethal condition that needs prompt treatment. Despite not being the primary custodian, the father is his biological father and in this case, has made the most appropriate decision on behalf of the baby. His decision has thus been accepted. Any other communication regarding the treatment should be forwarded to the facility as the treatment commences. Any objections to this decision can also be forwarded to the facility for consideration.
In conclusion, clinical models and theories make it easy to resolve ethical dilemmas when they arise. These dilemmas are common in healthcare and thus the need for these models. In the case above, the Uustal model has been described and used to solve the ethical dilemma effectively. It is also important to also note that these models prevent the inclination to use emotions when making a decision. Decisions should rely on fact and information as seen in the case example.
Doherty, R. F., & Purtilo, R. B. (2015). Ethical Dimensions in the Health Professions . New York NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Hunink, M. M., Weinstein, M. C., Wittenberg, E., Drummond, M. F., Pliskin, J. S., Wong, J. B., & Glasziou, P. P. (2014). Decision Making in Health and Medicine: Integrating Evidence and Values . New York NY: Cambridge University Press .
Welch, D. A. (2002). Decisions, Decisions: The Art of Effective Decision Making . Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.