A patient is diagnosed with the persistent vegetative state (PVS) when they show no evidence of the awareness of the self or the environment for an extended period of time. The chance of recovery of any mental function or the ability to interact in a meaningful way is low. Though rare, the condition, considering its nature as a state outwith the realm of the conscious, coupled with the trauma experienced by the patient's kin as well as health care staff confronted (...) with painful decisions regarding the patient's care, has attracted a considerable amount of discussion within the bioethics community. At present, there is a wealth of literature that discusses the relevant neurology, that elucidates the plethora of ethical challenges in understanding and dealing with the condition, and that analyses the real-world cases which have prominently featured in the mainstream media as a result of emotionally charged, divergent views concerning the provision of care to the patient. However, there is scarcely anything in the published scholarly literature that proposes concrete and practically actionable solutions to the now widely recognized moral conundrums. The present article describes a step in that direction. I start from the very foundations, laying out a sentientist approach which serves as the basis for the consequent moral decision-making, and then proceed to systematically identify and deconstruct the different cases of discord, using the aforementioned foundations as the basis for their resolution. A major intellectual contribution concerns the fluidity of the duty of care which I argue is demanded by the sentientist focus. The said duty is shown initially to have for its object the patient, which depending on the circumstances, can change to the patient's kin, or the health care staff themselves. In conclusion, the proposed framework represents the first comprehensive proposal regarding the decision-making processes involved in the deliberation on the provision of life sustaining treatment to a patient in a PVS. (shrink)
The sacrifices of nurses in hard-hit cities during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and of family caregivers for people with late-stage Alzheimer’s disease present two puzzles. First, traditional accounts of supererogation cannot allow for the possibility of making enormous sacrifices that make one’s actions supererogatory simply to do what morality requires. These caregivers, however, are doing their moral duty, yet their actions also seem to be paradigmatic cases of supererogation. I argue that Dale Dorsey’s new account of supererogation (...) can solve this puzzle. Second, these caregivers often deny that they are heroic, but standard explanations of these assertions either diminish their sacrifice, say they are confused, or attribute to them a vice. If we want to understand them without diminishing them, we should instead see their denials as a response to what Beth DeVolder calls compulsory heroism. Compulsory heroism occurs when someone is foisted into the role of hero for doing their moral duty as a distraction from the social realities that make doing their duty involve inordinate sacrifice. (shrink)
An ethics primer for nurses and nursing students that advances a vision for a holistic Christian notion of health and explores what Christian faith means, on a practical level, for the practice of nursing.
The phrase ‘person‐centred care’ (PCC) reminds us that the fundamental philosophical goal of caring for people is to uphold or promote their personhood. However, such an idea has translated into promoting individualist notions of autonomy, empowerment and personal responsibility in the context of consumerism and neoliberalism, which is problematic both conceptually and practically. From a conceptual standpoint, it ignores the fact that humans are social, historical and biographical beings, and instead assumes an essentialist or idealized concept of personhood in which (...) a person is viewed as an individual static object. From a practical standpoint, the application of such a concept of personhood can lead to neglect of a person's fundamental care needs and exacerbate the problems of social inequity, in particular for older people and people with dementia. Therefore, we argue that our understanding of PCC must instead be based on a dynamic concept of personhood that integrates the relevant social, relational, temporal and biographical dimensions. We propose that the correct concept of personhood in PCC is one in which persons are understood as socially embedded, relational and temporally extended subjects rather than merely individual, autonomous, asocial and atemporal objects. We then present a reconceptualization of the fundamental philosophical goal of PCC as promoting selfhood rather than personhood. Such a reconceptualization avoids the problems that beset the concept of personhood and its application in PCC, while also providing a philosophical foundation for the growing body of empirical literature that emphasizes the psychosocial, relational, subjective and biographical dimensions of PCC. (shrink)
The nursing community in the United States polarized in September 2020 between Dawn Wooten's whistleblowing about forced hysterectomies at an immigration center in Georgia and the American Nurses Association's refusal to endorse a presidential candidate despite the Trump administration's mounting failures to address the public health crisis posed by the COVID‐19 pandemic. This reveals a need for more attention to political aspects of health outcome inequities. As advocates for health equity, nurses can join in recent scholarship and activism concerning the (...) political determinants of health. In this paper, we examine recent work on the political determinants of health with an aim to add two things. First, we seek to build further on the notion of “political” determinants of health by distinguishing policy and governance structures from dynamics of politicization through appeal to critical disabilities studies. Second, we seek to apply this further nuanced approach to challenge rhetorical uses of “vulnerable populations,” where this phrase serves to misrecognize systemic institutionalized forces that actively exploit and marginalize people and groups. By refocusing attention to political systems organized around and perpetuating inequitable health outcomes, nurses and other health care professionals—as well as those whom they serve—can concentrate their effort and power to act on political determinants of health in bringing about more equitable health outcomes. (shrink)
Ethics and the Good Doctor brings together existing literature and an analysis of empirical research conducted by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues to examine the ethical nature of medical practice and explore medicine as a virtuous profession. The book is based on the idea that medical practice is an inherently moral profession, in which notions of trust, care and meaningful relationships form the foundations of being a good doctor. By taking into account the ethical dimensions of medical practice (...) that have come under greater scrutiny and pressure over recent years, this book explores how personal and professional character is understood, enacted, and experienced by medical practitioners at various stages of their career. Ethics and the Good Doctor situates and presents the empirical data in a way that is accessible to practicing doctors, medical students, and medical educators. Clear implications for policy, practice, and research are offered, ensuring this book will be of great interest to a range of stakeholders involved in medical practice, including those working in medical policy. (shrink)
Now in its sixth edition, this highly popular text covers the range of ethical issues affecting nurses and other healthcare professionals. Authors Simon Robinson and Owen Doody take a holistic and practical approach, focused in the dialogue of ethical decision making and how this connects professional, leadership and governance ethics in the modern healthcare environment. This focuses on the responsibility of professionals and leaders, and the importance of shared responsibility in the practice of healthcare. With a foreword by the eminent (...) medical ethicist Alastair Campbell, the revised edition includes contemporary topics, such as the duty of candour, recent cases, such as the Mid Staffs scandal, and ethical perspectives on vulnerable groups, such as; persons with intellectual/learning disability, dementia and those with an enduring mental illness. It builds on professional identity and personal development as part of ongoing learning, individual and organizational, and provides interactive ways that helps the reader to develop reflective ethical practice. This text aims to enable ethical engagement with the ever changing healthcare environment, and is a must-have for anyone serious about ethics in healthcare. Holistic and practice relevant approach New perspectives on vulnerable groups, such as persons with intellectual/learning disability, dementia and those with an enduring mental illness Descriptive as well as normative ethical theory Promoting dialogue and engagement with practice, practitioners, patients and families Development of professional ethical skills Connecting professional ethics to leadership, governance and social ethics Highly accessible format Case studies/Scenarios presented within chapters and pause for thought exercises to promote dialogue and engagement? Suitable for pre/post registration nurses, students, health care professionals. (shrink)
As nursing and healthcare continue to change, we need nurses who are committed both to a solid understanding of their profession and to caring well for patients and their families. Offering a historically and theologically grounded vision of the nurse's call, this thoroughly revised third edition of a classic text includes practical features for educators, students, and practitioners.