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Running head: LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUESName of Student-Essay title-LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUESWord count-
1LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUESIntroductionEvery profession has certain legal and ethical standards, which, at times can tend tocollide with each other. For example, in medicine, the legal standards often contradict theethical norms and create dilemmas, making it very difficult to solve by choosing the rightoption. Ethical values followed by the medical practitioners are the standard rules ofBioethics, as set by the ‘Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (UDBHR)(Plomer, 2013). This essay will discuss the legal and ethical issues faced in the medical fieldin regard to the given case, focussing on the principles of each that often contradict oneanother.Legal issues:The elements of a valid “informed consent” must be present in the given scenario forthe paramedics to conduct the treatment of Richard’s heat shock (Lamont, Jeon, & Chiarella,2013). Firstly, Richard must be let known about the pros and cons of treatment by theparamedics. Secondly, he must be made aware of the consequences of both having and nothaving the treatment done on him. Lastly, he must be made aware of the necessity of suchtreatment, by the paramedics.The law on bioethics (UDBHR) for medicine states clearly that the elements ofinformed consent must be present before the treatment of any patient. In addition, the lawstates that in case of treatment without consent of the patient, the medical practitioners will beheld legally liable (Wells & Kaptchuk, 2012).The paramedics have the right to treat Richard for his head injury, even though he hadrefused their treatment for heat shock, previously. It is so, because according to theexceptions to the principle of informed consent, a medical practitioner need not obtain the
2LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUESconsent of a patient for treatment in case of emergency when the patient is unable to consent.Therefore, in this given case, even though the medical crew did not obtain Richard’sinformed consent for the heat shock treatment, they can provide treatment for his head injury,as after his head was injured, Richard was unable to give consent and it was an urgent andemergency situation (Flynn et al., 2012).The law of bioethics(UDBHR)states that during a treatment, if another problem cropsup which isresolved by doing the initial treatment, the medical practitioner need not requirethe consent of the patient(Kaye et al., 2015). Therefore, in this case, Richard was incapable ofprovidingconsent because ofhis head injury andcranio-facial surgery was necessary(Garrinoet al., 2015), therefore, the medical practitioners did not need consent for Richard’s cranio-facial surgery. This is clearly stated under the law of bioethics and is also an exception to theprinciple of informed consent.Richard is a resident of Queensland, Australia, where his wife Meryl and childrenlive. At the time of the head injury, Richard’s wife was not present, and Lucas took charge ofRichard. He had called the paramedics after Richard suffered the head injury and at the sametime informed Richard’s wife, Meryl. The paramedics decided toadmit Richard to a majorhospital in Brisbane, which meant he was flown by air ambulance. Richard’s wife, after beinginformed by Lucas about Richard’s injury, straightaway went to the hospital.Lucas drovedown to the hospital and by the time he reached to the hospital Meryl was already there.In the circumstances, treatment decisions related to Richard depends on Meryl, as shehas a legal relationship with Richard and has the right to make decisions for him. Lucas, whoinitially took responsibility for Richard, has no legal relationship with Richard and cannotmake decisions regarding his health treatment (Bickenbach, 2012). Hence, Richard’s wifewill be the one to take decisions regarding Richard’s treatment based on their legal
3LEGAL AND ETHICAL ISSUESrelationship (Stewart, 2012). In case of any disagreement regarding any decision forRichard’s treatment, between Meryl and the medical practitioners, the only option that will beleft is to obtain the decisions of the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT),which decides these kinds of cases, brought before it by any medical practitioner regardingthe treatment of patients’ requiring special medical care.If the medical practitioners believe that Meryl’s decisions regarding Richard’streatment are not the best course of action medically they will approach QCAT. In nocondition, the decisions of Lucas will not prevail due to the presence of Meryl, as Lucas,being a friend of Richard, shares no legal relationship with Richard. Therefore, the issue isthe difference between what Meryl wants and what is regarded as medically the best courseof action.In such cases, QCAT investigates the medical condition of the patient and after itsinvestigation, gives a verdict based on the medical issue. QCAT is the only legal authority inQueensland that has the authority to decide the future treatment of Richard in this case, if themedical practitioners don’t agree with Meryl’s wishes regarding the same (Ries, Thompson& Lowe, 2017).In order to withdraw the life sustaining measures Richard is surviving on, certainfactors are required to beconsidered, including the current health condition of the patient andwhether there is any chance of recovery if life sustaining measures are discontinued andwhether there is any other feasible option available that can cure the patient (Alberthsen etal., 2013). The decisionof QCAT must be obeyed if the case has been referred to it, as once acase is referred to QCAT, the decision becomes legally binding.