Mary C. Northern Case Study

Improved Essays
A person’s autonomy is a privilege that is earned through the knowledge gained through life experiences. For children, the right to decide is withdrawn because the parent’s are thought to know what is best in the circumstances concerning their children. The ability to understand and comprehend the severity of illness or the consequences of decisions is lacking in adolescents. They are deemed incapable of making informed decisions thus incompetent; therefore, the parents are given the authority to provide or deny consent on behalf of their children. Similarly, elderly who are experiencing deteriorating illnesses may have an altered competence due to being in denial or having fear of the outcome. In relations to the case of Mary C. Northern, …show more content…
As stated in “Deciding for Others: Competency”, a person may be competent in one area yet incompetent in another. I disagree with Dr. John J. Griffin conclusion that Mary was functioning on a psychotic level. As a physician, it is important to take into consideration the effect that an illness is having on a patient. Mary was informed that she was going to loose her legs and the only option other than that was death. Her delusions of healing are justified to an extent by the severity of the information she received. Denial is a way for a majority of people to cope. Physicians as well as family should respect and acknowledge that a patient requires support and comfort during such a time. However, the doctors in Mary’s case rushed to conclude her reactions where due to incompetency without proper …show more content…
With the understanding that their patient does not want to die, the doctors should act according to their oath as physicians to provide the best possible care. There is a chance she will live, albeit in an altered state mentally and physically, if her legs are amputated. It would be unjust to allow the infection to spread thus prolonging the suffering of the patient.
Although I agree with the court’s decision to amputate Mary’s legs in order to save her life, it is a decision that was not determined in a timely manner. Such decisions regarding patients with severe and deteriorating illness should be processed with respect to the patient’s condition becoming worse with time. Having an ethics board or a medical community to alleviate the pressure of a single doctor making a decision for a patient who is not able to act autonomously would allow for a treatment plan to be determined earlier. In Mary’s case, the court ruling prevented the doctor’s from acting to save her

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