Biomedical Ethics: Healing and Autonomy
Case Study: Healing and Autonomy
Mike and Joanne are the parents of James and Samuel, identical twins born eight years ago. James is currently suffering from acute glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. James was originally brought into the hospital for complications associated with a strep throat infection. The spread of the A streptococcus infection led to the subsequent kidney failure. James’ condition was acute enough to warrant immediate treatment. Usually cases of acute glomerulonephritis caused by strep infection tend to improve on their own, or with an antibiotic. However, James also had elevated blood pressure and enough fluid buildup that required temporary dialysis to relieve.
The attending physician suggested immediate dialysis. After some time of discussion with Joanne, Mike informs the physician that they are going to forego the dialysis and place their faith in God. Mike and Joanne had been moved by a sermon their pastor had given a week ago, and also had witnessed a close friend regain mobility when she was prayed over at a healing service after a serious stroke. They thought it more prudent to take James immediately to a faith healing service instead of putting James through multiple rounds of dialysis. Yet Mike and Joanne agreed to return to the hospital after the faith healing services later in the week, and in hopes that James would be healed by then.
Two days later the family returned, and was forced to place James on dialysis, as his condition had deteriorated. Mike felt perplexed and tormented by his decision to not treat James earlier. Had he not enough faith? Was God punishing him or James? To make matters worse, James kidneys had deteriorated such that his dialysis was now not a temporary matter, and was in need of a kidney transplant. Crushed and desperate, Mike and Joanne immediately offered to donate one of their own kidneys to James, but they were not compatible donors. Over the next few weeks, amidst daily rounds of dialysis, some of their close friends and church members also offered to donate a kidney to James. However, none of them were tissue matches.
James’ nephrologist called to schedule a private appointment with Mike and Joanne. James was stable, given the regular dialysis, but would require a kidney transplant within the year. Given the desperate situation, the nephrologist informed Mike and Joanne of a donor that was an ideal tissue match, but as of yet had not been considered—James’ brother Samuel.
Mike vacillates and struggles to decide whether he should have his other son Samuel lose a kidney, or perhaps wait for God to do a miracle this time around. Perhaps this is where the real testing of his faith will come in? “This time around, it is a matter of life and death, what could require greater faith than that?” Mike reasons.
Week 3 | Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narra…
Assignment Case Study on Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative
Due Date: Feb 19, 2017 23:59:59 Max Points: 200
Write a 1,200-1,500 word analysis of “Case Study: Healing and Autonomy.” In light of the readings, be sure to address the following questions:
- Under the Christian narrative and Christian vision, what sorts of issues are most pressing in this case study?
- Should the physician allow Mike to continue making decisions that seem to him to be irrational and harmful to James?
- According to the Christian narrative and the discussion of the issues of treatment refusal, patient autonomy, and organ donation in the topic readings, how might one analyze this case?
- According to the topic readings and lecture, how ought the Christian think about sickness and health? What should Mike as a Christian do? How should he reason about trusting God and treating James?
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Biomedical Ethics: Healing and Autonomy.
This case study highlights the story of a Christian family. The mother gave birth to identical twins, James and Samuel. Unfortunately, eight years later, James was diagnosed with acute glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. After his condition had gotten worse, the physician recommended an immediate dialysis on him, Mike and his wife decided to reject the doctor’s advice after consulting amongst themselves. Instead, they opted for spiritual healing at their local church because they had faith James would heal because another member of the congregation managed to walk again after being prayed to during a sermon. Since the parents had the consent of their son’s needs, the hospital could not oppose much on this decision. However, after a while, the couple returned to the hospital because James’ condition deteriorated. His condition compelled the doctors to opt for a kidney transplant. Everyone else failed to match with James’ tissue except for his brother, Samuel who turned out to be the match. This situation leaves Mike in a dilemma wondering if he can agree to let Samuel donate the kidney or he should hold on to his faith waiting for God to heal James. This case study has brought up controversy regarding Christianity and health. In addition, there is the issue of how some Christian denominations have an influence on the patients’ autonomy. Since the patient autonomy is a crucial aspect of medicine, it has a direct impact on the well-being of the patient.
Most Pressing Issues
There are several pressing issues in this case study under the Christian narrative. To put them in context, it is of great importance to take note that there are different versions of the Christian faith whereby every domination interprets Christianity in different as well as separate ways. For instance, the Protestants and the Baptists have different variations, and so do the Presbyterians and the Catholics. With these various points of view on God, some denominations purport that God placed the doctors and medicine on earth so that they can provide the necessary healing to the ailing through His guidance. Consequently, this would mean that it would be okay to receive treatment for a particular sickness, thereby preventing death or suffering because doctors are working on behalf of God. Contrarily, religion like the Jehovah witness do not allow blood transfusion as well as other treatments that could save lives because it is against their Christianity beliefs.
For the above reasons, one cannot place a blanket notion or narrative over the many different Christian faiths. However, most of the Christian issues of the controversy here are majorly associated with the moral and ethical issues, which are connected with various treatment procedures that tend to forgo their beliefs. Such case is what resulted in unwanted suffering and almost a death sentence James, whose parents could not allow treatment because of their faith. Another important issue that brings controversy to Christian narrative and notion is the decision reached by doctors and the parents, which is an ethical dilemma. The issue here is when they propose to take a kidney from James’ twin brother, Samuel since he was a match with ailing James. This decision is an issue because Samuel is too young to provide his consent on whether he will donate the kidney or not.
Should Mike be allowed to Make Decisions Regarding James
Religion plays an essential capacity role in the lives of many people and some situations; the religious beliefs of various Christian denominations have always been in conflict with medicine. There are related issues that involve religions, which can bring hindrance in delivering the necessary medical requirements to patients (American Academy of Paediatrics, 2013). The outstanding issue that is directly involved in the case study is the parent’s refusal to allow their children receive medical treatment. In this instance, Mike denied the doctors the chance to treat James, and he opted to take him for spiritual healing rather than medical healing. Medical professionals are obliged to respect parents’ decision-making authority over their children as an important principle in this field, but doctors should report such cases as a medical neglect. In such situations, the state should be able to intercede and order medical treatment for the child. Mike’s reason to refuse medical treatment for his son was based on his faith in that the religious and spiritual involvement in his son’s condition will heal him.
In such cases, where it is a matter of life and death, and medical treatment can prevent suffering and even death, it is recommended that the health, as well as the autonomy of the child, should be prioritised and protected. Religious exemptions to neglecting the law and child abuse do not protect every child equally. This can harm some kids by causing confusion regarding the duty to give out medical care. It is therefore recommended that these exemptions be repealed. Also, health care funds for the public should not cover any alternative or unproven spiritual and religious healing practices. This is because such payments may legitimize these practices as an appropriate medical treatment.
Right now, spirituality is regarded as a constitutive part of what it means to be human. It relates to the human capacity for self-existence in our everyday life, which provides the fulfillment as well as the meaning of life. Consequently, if the Christian spirituality is to entail every lived experience, then spirituality will also engage in science and medicine. This applies, in particular, more so when it involve bioethics where there is an application of science or medicine to manipulate the different biological process. This issue has challenged Christianity concerning the view on meaning and value. Patient autonomy involves the informed choices of a competent person, which in this case study is Mike on behalf of his son, James. This respect gives authority to a particular decision taken by the patient, and it has brought the focus of medicine to the patient rather than the pathology. Therefore, physicians cannot go against the principle of autonomy (Ladin, 2016).
In the case study when Mike refused dialysis and opted for spiritual healing, autonomy will dictate that the doctor should inform the patient of the risks involved in case of refusal. The doctor respects James’ autonomy because it is their free will to choose spiritual healing keeping in mind that they know the risks involved. Therefore, on a Christian narrative regarding patient autonomy, medical treatment refusal, and organ donations, a choice is available and valuable. Therefore, people are free to make theirs. In case it is not the right choice, they will face the repercussions.
How Ought the Christian Think about Sickness And Health?
The point of view of Christians regarding sickness and health is always variable as to how doctors and physicians see it. From our case study, Mike and his family were staunch Christians therefore; it is safe to say that they viewed sickness from a Christian perspective. Since Christianity involve different denominations, it is safe to say that every Christian faith has a different view on sickness and health matter. Some Christians see it as a temptation from God, others see it as a punishment for the wrongs they have done before, and others like Mike and his family see sickness as a test of his faith in God. At the same time, there are Christians who believe that God sent doctors to help eliminate sickness. Therefore, they see this as a condition that disrupts normal bodily function thus in need of treatment.
Mike as a Christian should hold on to his
faith, but at the same time, he should allow the doctors do all they can to
bring back his son to good health. He should hold on to his faith in the sense
that he should let the doctors do their best in treatment. He should pray to
God for a miracle to happen, which will be through the work these doctors will
do to James The best way for him to reason in trusting God and the treatment of
James is only through the doctors.
American Academy of Paediatrics. (2013). Conflicts between Religious or Spiritual Beliefs and Paediatric Care: Informed Refusal, Exemptions, and Public Funding. Retrieved from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/962
Ladin, K. (2016). Organ Donation as a Collective Action Problem: Ethical Considerations and Implications for Practice. AMA Journal of Ethics, Volume 18, (Number 2). Retrieved from http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2016/02/msoc1-1602.html