Insight of Ethics in Health Care

The parties involved in this scenario are Terri and Michael Schiavo, Bob, and Mary Schindler. In this situation Terri’s parents and husband are feuding over the decision to let Terri remain in a permanent vegetative state or remove her from life support. Terri did not have a living will so the decision was left up to her husband in deciding how her medical care should be continued. There were a lot of legal actions involved in this case because Terri’s parents and her husband could not come to an agreement of whether Michael was making the best decision determining if life support is no longer needed for Terri because of her health condition.

Terri’s husband stated that she did not want to be kept on life support to help her function. Mr. and Mrs. Schindler decided they would take legal actions to prevent Michael from allowing the doctor to remove her from life support. I chose to elaborate on paternalism and surrogate decision making to exhibit why Terri’s husband and parents could not come to an agreement with this whole situation. I will discuss the rights of Michael versus Terri’s parents in the context of terminating care.

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Persistent Vegetative State is a medical term used to describe the process by which patients go into a coma and their brain become unresponsive causing them to never have conscious awareness of their surroundings. According to the Terri Schiavo Case, I strongly believe her husband was right by taking charge of her life after she was not competent to make decisions on her own. Michael gave Terri’s family a chance to provide care for her before he decided to put her into a hospice care and they could not handle the type of care that she needed.

So Michael placed her in hospice care so he could get her the special medical assistance she needed. Terri was in a vegetative state for fifteen years. Michael had medical experts evaluate Terri. She also received exams from neurologists and surgeons to determine whether Terri would ever regain consciousness from her vegetative state. After examining her brain, the doctor exhibited illustrations of how a normal brain look compared to Terri’s brain. Looking at the photograph all her brain tissue had deteriorated.

The judge ruled in Michael’s favor and decided he could make the decision of removing Terri from life support because he had substantial evidence her condition was permanent. The ethical principle paternalism describes Mr. and Mrs. Schindler reaction. Terri’s parents thought it would be the best interest if Michael kept Terri on the life support system. They were presented with evidence by medical professionals that her condition was permanent. Terri’s parents knew they were losing their daughter and they tried their best to overthrow Michael’s decision even if they felt deep down inside he was making the right decision.

From a medical professional point of view Terri was not able to function own her own and she did not even have the power to make decisions for herself. Mr. and Mrs. Schindler battled with Michael for five years because of their paternal instinct. Any parents will fight for their children’s life if it means getting in to it with the spouse to defend their child’s life as what has been illustrated in this circumstance. Michael took charge and exercised the principle surrogate decision making.

According to this principle, “If the patient’s wishes are known, the surrogate should use substituted judgment, for which some states may require clear and convincing evidence of the patient’s prior wishes. If the patient’s wishes are unknown, the surrogate should act in the patient’s best interests for determining the appropriate course of action” (2007 Ascension Health). Michael proceeded and took steps to show that he did not want his wife suffering by obtaining medical advice from experts and making the big decision to remove Terri from life support system.

I think Michael made the right decision because you can never understand how much pain and suffering someone is going through unless you are in their presence twenty four hours a day like he was. I understand Terri’s parents are upset because the judge ruled in Michael’s favor. Her parents have to understand that the judge let Michael make the decision because it was at the best interest of Terri’s health in this case. The doctors deemed that her health was not going to improve.