Case Involving a Medical Dilemma
Nurses usually experience ethical dilemmas while carrying out their work of providing care to different patient populations. Ethical dilemmas arising during nursing practice are largely attributable to the complex processes involved in healthcare delivery. An example of a landmark case involving a medical dilemma is the case of a 17-year-old girl in Connecticut, Cassandra C, who refused to continue receiving chemotherapy. Cassandra was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in September 2014. Following her diagnosis, doctors recommended chemotherapy as a suitable treatment approach that would help save her life. However, with her mother’s support, Cassandra refused this treatment approach for her potentially curable cancer resulting in a medical dilemma that ended up at the Connecticut Supreme Court. In a unanimous decision, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the teenager cannot refuse chemotherapy on the premise that she is not mature (Viale, 2015).
Cassandra’s case is an example of a scenario involving patients’ refusal of therapy, which ultimately generates medical dilemmas for healthcare providers. While it is entirely appropriate for patients to refuse care or reject aggressive therapies, there are various factors that should be taken into consideration before such decisions are made. The Connecticut Supreme Court considered these additional factors prior to making the ruling on whether Cassandra’s refusal of therapy is appropriate. According to Hevia & Schnidrig (2016), some of the dimensions to the right to health that shape such decisions include the responsibility of states to safeguard people’s health, patient decision-making, the right to free development of the individual, and the right to autonomy. The ruling in this case reflected the responsibility of the state to protect people’s health and consideration of the right to autonomy and individual decision-making. It was an appropriate outcome since the patient was not mature enough to refuse treatment.
Hevia, M. & Schnidrig, D. (2016, December). Terminal Patients and the Right to Refuse Medical Treatment in Argentina. Health and Human Rights Journal, 18(2), 247-250.
Viale, P.H. (2015, March-April). Refusal of Therapy: When Is It Appropriate? Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology, 6(2), 96-97.
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