Medicine And Technology : A Ethical Dilemma For An Incompetent Individual 's Family And Healthcare Providers

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Advances in medicine and technology have allowed physicians the ability to prolong and sustain life but there are certain moral implications present in cases where the patient has either a terminal illness or is in a pertinent vegetative state (PVS). Withholding or withdrawing treatment is a major ethical dilemma for an incompetent individual’s family and healthcare providers. Most people have not completed an advance directive or much less have appointed a healthcare power of attorney who can also make decisions regarding medical treatment in the event that the individual becomes unable to make those decisions for themselves. Having advance directives can help alleviate some pressure during a stressful time when the doctor and family are unaware of whether or not to withhold medical treatment, as in the hypothetical case of a person who may be incompetent but has not completed an advance directive. In these scenarios, healthcare providers may find themselves in legal dilemmas but the current-interests approach seems to be morally permissible in deciding end of life care or ensuring the quality of life while at the same time, respecting the patient’s autonomy and family’s wishes.
Considering a hypothetical situation of a 78-year-old patient named Irene G. whose health has deteriorated due to Alzheimer’s and although not in PVS, is still considered incompetent. While competent, Irene did not complete an advance directive but she had told her sister various times that if she…

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