Act Utilitarianism In Nursing Case Study

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You are a nurse at a hospital at which a woman was admitted for several tests. After the tests it is discovered that the woman has chronic leukemia. When you go to speak to the woman to see how she is doing you discover that she knows nothing about her diagnosis. Before you are able to go discuss this with her physician, her daughters stop you and ask you not to tell the woman of her disease. They want you to tell their mother that she is medically fine. The daughters claim that she recently went through a bad divorce and don’t want to make things worse on her. After speaking to the daughters, you go see the physician to figure out the situation. The physician tells you that the woman has just been told that she has refractory anemia, which …show more content…
The definition of act utilitarianism can be defined as the following: one ought to seek to produce the greatest possible balance of good over evil, or the least possible balance of evil over good for all who will be affected by one’s actions (Practical Guide, ch. 4). When using act utilitarianism to help solve an ethical issue, one must weigh the pros and cons of their decision and its consequences. In this case the nurse must decide which course of action is better for all parties that are involved. The negative side effects of telling the patient the diagnosis would be things like emotional stress, angering the patient’s family, and going against her attending physician. The positive side effects would consist of getting the proper medical care for the patient, feeling better yourself as the nurse and the patient fully understanding her illness. Another part of the theory is the greatest happiness principle. This principle states that one must seek to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number (Practical Guide, ch. 4). If the nurse does not tell the woman about her leukemia it would make the physician and the daughters happy and would continue to let the woman be happy as well. If the nurse were to deliver the news, the only person who would result in some form of happiness is the nurse herself. Therefore, based on the facts given, using act utilitarianism as a …show more content…
The theory states that one must act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end, never as a means only (Practical Guide, ch.5). To apply Kantianism, you must look at how the object of moral concern is being treated and if that treatment is resulting in exploitation (Practical Guide, ch.5). Pertaining to this case, we must look at how the patient is being used. If the nurse decides to follow the physician’s orders, is she doing so as to simply keep her job and her boss happy? The patient is not fully aware of her current situation so she cannot consent to being used in this way. If that is true then the patient is being exploited as a means. Even the woman’s daughters are using the lack of her knowledge as a means to keep their mother happy. The solution for this issue would be that the nurse should tell the patient her diagnosis. If the patient is told, then she will be and can no longer be used.
After applying both a teleological theory and a deontological theory, two different solutions have surfaced. Morally I agree with the resolution that comes from Kantianism. I believe that the woman has every right to know her full diagnosis because it is her own life that is being affected. Keeping information from the woman would be deceiving and could potentially harm her further in the future. Therefore, the morally

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