Question & What Needs to be Addressed:
Lindsay enters the emergency room with acute stomach pain and immediately undergoes a CT scan to diagnose her pain. Lindsay is diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm (a weakening in the wall of the aorta which causes it to stretch and bulge). The ER physicians inform Lindsay that the only way to fix the problem is surgically, and that the chances of survival are about 50/50. They also inform her that time is of the essence, and that should the aneurysm burst, she would be dead in a few short minutes.
Lindsay, who works full time as a model, expresses to the physicians that she is worried the surgery will leave a scar that will negatively affect her work; therefore, she refuses any surgical treatment. Even after much pressuring from the physicians, she adamantly refuses surgery. Feeling that Lindsay is not in her correct state of mind and knowing that time is of the essence, the surgeons decide to perform the procedure without her consent. They anesthetize her and surgically repair the aneurysm. She survives, and sues the hospital for millions of dollars.
For the CASE STUDY assignment, please answer the following:
In response to the foregoing fact pattern:
- Should the physicians have performed the procedure? What legal and ethical issues should be considered by the ER physicians before performing (or not performing) the procedure?
- Is it ever justifiable to take away someone’s autonomy? (Would a court order make the physicians’ decisions ethical or legal?)
- What would you do if you were one of the ER health care workers?
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