Medical Ethics PHIL 148 @ Binghamton University, Sum 11


Case Study Summary- Health Care & Justice

Maddy is a 25-year-old woman who works and goes to school part time but unfortunately is plagued with Crohns disease.  This disease has also led to the development of two kidney stones; however, she denies any surgical procedure because of her inability to fund it.  The ethical perspectives all have something to say about this particular case.

Kantian deontology believes that some physicians should do whatever they can in their power to help Maddy out.  Whether it be by doing the work for free or by lowering the cost of the procedure, it still needs to get done in order to fulfill a duty.  Ross’ duty of beneficence also plays into this as well.  Essentially, doctors should be performing this out of the good of their hearts in order to make for a better world.  Maddy also has a prima facie duty of self-improvement and that duty is more vital than her duty towards anyone else’s inconvenience.  Utilitarianism suggests that we don’t waste resources on one individual.  The main premise here is whether helping Maddy out will be beneficial on a larger scale; is Maddy’s treatment going to positively affect the world.  The main agreement with utilitarianism is that by helping Maddy out, resources aren’t being used as they should be.  They are not being used efficiently and can be used on a bigger scale to help out more people; essentially, maximum utility of resources are not being attained.  In one aspect however, utilitarianism can be attained.  If Maddy were to receive this treatment and move on with her life, she would then be able to finish school and receive her master’s in the field of health care.  With this education under her belt, she would then be able to help out society.  So if looking at the situation from this point of view, a greater good can be attained.  In general, there is a difference between the present and the future.  In the present, utilitarianism would not agree since resources aren’t being used as efficiently as possible.  In the future, utilitarianism will agree since Maddy’s education can benefit society.

Virtue ethics would find some venue in order to have Maddy receive her procedure.  Her father could take her in to help her out with the bills.  Her friends could help her out financially with her medical expenses.  She could receive financial aid from the institution she is studying.  Maddy might be able to find another job that would give her some health benefits.  Since Maddy has invested so much time and effot and clearly isn’t a lazy individual, virtue ethics would side with Maddy and somehow enable her to receive the medical attention that she deserves.  Care ethics stresses the relationship that has been established between Maddy and her physician.  If the physician was abiding by the moral standards of care ethics, the physician would see to it at that Maddy is taken care of.  Whether the physician performs the procedure at a discounted rate due to her situation or whether he/she somehow enables her to receive some sort coverage for her medical expenses, the physician must do all in his/her power in order treat Maddy.  In the end, when all is said and done, the relationship between patient and physician is the most important part of care ethics, and the only way a healthy, trusting relationship can emerge is if the physician finds a way to perform the procedure on Maddy and see that she becomes healthy.





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