Week One Book/Lecture Notes
*The field of medical ethics began around 1970
Why not before you may ask?
1. Trends in philosophy.
a. Philosophy has been dominated by the analysis of language.
b. Instead of the free will of a patient, they were more concerned with the meaning of what is it to have free will.
A Theory of Justice by John Rawls hit the scene. There was also a large delayed impact of the 60s where a lot of people were doing drugs and partaking in sexual activities more frequently. Common sense also seemed to take root.
2. Technological advancements were creating more and more ethical issues as they were more life-sustaining.
*Doctors and nurses have sworn to preserve life and relieve suffering….but how does one do that when the only way to end suffering is to end life?
*active euthanasia: “killing,” administering lethal injection; illegal in the US except when judge mandated We also discuss several other topics like How important is experience in approach to psychology?
Don't forget about the age old question of How are forces of economic trade determined?
We also discuss several other topics like Why do plants need microorganisms?
*passive euthanasia: “letting die,” removing feeding tube; not only legal, but very common
*voluntary euthanasia: competent patient voluntarily requests or agrees to euthanasia, either directly asking or through specific instruction (such as a will) to be followed if a vegetative state consumes them
*non-voluntary euthanasia: patient is not competent, but the family or doctor decides for the patient
*involuntary euthanasia- bringing about a patient’s death against their will with or without consent while they are still competent. This is illegally & morally impermissible.
*In the 1960s, most deaths occurred at home…out of the scrutinous eyes of the public. It was a private matter amongst your family and friends. But with this new and improved life-sustaining technology, more and more people are dying in hospitals and institutions.
If you want to learn more check out How do water soluble hormones enter the cell?
*CRISIS- this medical technology let’s us sustain life longer than ever before, wanted or unwanted in some cases
*Karen Quinlan Case (1975):
⮚ One night, Karen took drugs, in correlation with alcohol and not eating beforehand, which caused anoxia to the brain.
⮚ Her brain being deprived of oxygen for that long left her in a persistent vegetative state (PVS); a type of coma If you want to learn more check out What are the components of eukaryotes?
If you want to learn more check out What does anthropology focus on?
⮚ Stats show ~35,000 U. S. patients in a PVS
⮚ And ~280,000 in a “minimally conscious state”
⮚ She would sometimes open eyes, writhe around, and moan…but was completely unresponsive otherwise.
⮚ As she was losing the ability to breath, hospital staff said they could put her on a ventilator…but didn’t warn her that it would sustain her life, but they wouldn’t remove it.
⮚ Her condition became wretched as she was nearly dwindled to nothing. ⮚ Family finally accepted her as lost and asked her to be taken off; Catholic hospital she was in refused to “kill” Quinlan.
⮚ Eventually, after a successful court appeal, they were able to disconnect Karen’s ventilator and let her rest in peace.