Ethical Dilemma in End-of-Life Care – Medical Ethics Example

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"Ethical Dilemma in End-of-Life Care" is a well-written example of a paper on medical ethics. End-of-life care is one of the most ethically sensitive issues in the field of medicine. There are several factors that are involved when it comes to making decisions for an individual who is under life support as these people may have no relatives or their will conflicts with that of their family members. The ethical dilemma in this form of care is evident and the number of newly diagnosed vegetative patients further increases concern on the subject among health care professionals (Gastmans, 2012). The main issue that is involved in end-of-life care is the decision on whether support should be terminated and the indications for withholding these assisting methods.

Religious ethics have questioned the seizure of care for decades as these institutions believe that it is not up to any organization to decide when someone’ s life should be taken as this is a decision made by a superior being (Gastmans, 2012). However, this factor depends on the religious beliefs of the patient. If he or she is a Christian, one way would be to continue assistance until he or she dies naturally. Doctors and healthcare professionals are also under oath to do everything they can to save and preserve human life.

Under these medical duties, removing life support will be a breach of this moral oath hence; the appropriate approach will be to continue assistance until it is no longer possible (Kasting et al. , 2010).   For patients suffering from long-term or pre-determined critical illnesses, decisions should be made before this patient is in a vegetative state. This is one way that healthcare institutions can try to ensure that the will of the patient is not being violated.

These decisions should be made in the presence of family members to ensure that they can advocate for the patient when he or she is no longer able to do so for him or herself. This is based on the decision in the United States which indicates that autonomy precedence over different considerations that have to be made during the last hours of an individual’ s life (McCarthy et al. , 2011). As an acute nurse, the role at the end of life care is vital as it is vulnerable to emotional influence.

Nevertheless among all the healthcare professionals, nurses spend the longest time with patients and this puts them in a position to know more delicate details about the patient’ s will. The nurse also has the duty to relate to the relatives of the patient as this state is equally traumatizing and requires both emotional and professional support. In this instance, the nurse can do her professional best to educate the relatives on the different medical factors involving the patient’ s condition to enable them to make a better decision on the measures to take.

If the healthcare institution and the family members of the patient work together, the best decision can be derived as the two are able to combine their resources and make the best decision both professionally and according to the presumed will of the patient and his or her relatives.


Gastmans, C. (2012). Nursing ethics perspectives on end-of-life care.

Keating, N. L., Landrum, M. B., Rogers, S. O., Baum, S. K., Virnig, B. A., Huskamp, H. A., ... & Kahn, K. L. (2010). Physician factors associated with discussions about end‐of‐life care. Cancer, 116(4), 998-1006.

McCarthy, J., Donnelly, M., Dooley, D., Smith, D., & Campbell, L. (2011). End-of-life Care: Ethics and Law. Cork University Press.

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