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Informed Demand for Non-Beneficial Medical Treatment Essay (Essay Sample)


bioethics essay (philosophy)


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The Wanglie Case
August 15, 1991
Informed Demand for Non-Beneficial Medical Treatment
An eighty-five-year-old Mrs. Hegla Wanglie, a nursing home resident was on January 1, 1990, taken to Hennepin County Medical Center. She was taken to the facility so that she could be given treatment for dyspnea that she had, a condition that was a result of chronic bronchiectasis. She was provided with emergency intubation by being placed on a respirator. She could not properly communicate following her placement on the respirator. However, she was able to identify and recognize visiting family members and could acknowledge the discomfort, though occasionally. In May, she was transferred to a chronic care hospital as weaning her from the respirator by the staff became impossible.
Her heart stopped a week later during another attempt aimed at weaning her from the respirator. This necessitated more care and she was taken to the intensive care unit in another hospital after being resuscitated. After failing to regain consciousness, it was indicated to the family by a physician that a consideration to withdraw her from the life-support systems would be appropriate. However, the family's response was initiating her transfer on May 31 to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Two weeks later, the medical staff was convinced by tests that she had gotten into a Persistent Vegetative State (PVS) due to severe anoxic encephalopathy. Maintenance on the respirator with repeated antibiotics courses, airway suctioning frequently, an air floatation bed, biochemical monitoring as well as tube feedings constituted her care.
During the year 1990’s months of June and July, the physicians indicated that the family withdrew from life-sustaining treatment because she was not benefiting from it. According to the report by Dr. Steven Miles, the family said, "physicians should not play God, that the patient would not be better off dead, that removing her life support showed moral decay in our civilization, and that a miracle could occur. . . .” Never had Mrs. Wanglie showed that she preferred life-sustaining treatment. This was according to her husband. The family, however, reluctantly never accepted a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order due to the improbability of providing that she would survive a cardiac arrest. The family declined the recommended counseling by a consultant from the committee on ethics. In late July, the family went ahead to ask that removal of the respirator should never be a question to be raised ever again.

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