Legal and Ethical Issues: Case Study

Cathy Smith, an eighty-eight-year-old woman, was admitted to the emergency room from the nursing facility with acute respiratory distress. Although Smith does not have a living will, her daughter Rose, a health care professional, has the power of attorney (POA) to make her mother’s health decisions.

Smith suffers from end-stage Alzheimer’s disease and recently experienced congestive heart failure. Her condition is alarming. The doctors want to place her on life-support equipment, including a ventilator. Smith’s son, Andrew, agrees with the doctor’s decision. However, Rose states her mother would never want to be placed on life-support machines to prolong her life.

Analyze the scenario and answer the following questions:

  • What are the autonomy-beneficial conflicts between Rose and Andrew related to placing their mother on life support in this case? Who has the right to make the decision on behalf of the client? Why?
  • What are the ethical issues related to the competency and decision-making capacity of the client while making the health care decisions? Do these issues impact the services offered in long-term care? How?
  • What are some of the critical issues related to informed consent? Who has the right to assume this responsibility? Why?

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