Case Study: Moral Issues
People are faced with difficult decisions that affect their lives on a daily basis. Thinking these decisions through and taking full consideration off all aspects should be taken at all times. In the case study, a certain Ms. A, has been diagnosed with carcinoma of the cervix. She has been told that the disease is treatable by performing a hysterectomy, however, the thought of this makes her apprehensive. Consequently, her doctor is now faced with a dilemma, if he tells her the risks having her push back the surgery. So, he wonders if he should tell her husband about all the risks and just tell ms. A that things will go well. He has to weigh out all the consequences before coming to a concrete decision. Thus, if he informs her of the risks and she postpones it she risks the disease getting worse and if he tells only the husband she will be treated immediately
If people think in terms of long and short-term happiness than they would have to agree that the act or rule utilitarianism theory would work very well in this case. As the theory states, act to maximize happiness and minimize suffering and prioritize rules over happiness (Thomas and Waluchow 18). The doctor obviously has Ms. A’s best interests in mind and would want her to have long-term happiness. So, people need to keep the consequences in mind. It would be in Ms. A’s best interests to have the surgery as soon as possible and not postpone it any further in case the cancer spreads. The doctor needs to have impartiality towards both Ms. A’s happiness and wellbeing. Thus, it would only make sense that he act in a manner that would benefit Ms. A and at the same time make sure that someone is aware of the risks involved in case something happens. The solution therefore, is to tell the husband of all the risks involved so he is aware of what is going on. However, the doctor should merely tell Ms. A that things would go well with the surgery.
Many people would disagree with using the above theory because they feel that Ms. A should be able to make an informed decision about her surgery. According to Kant “The morality of an action lies not in the happiness or pleasure it produces, but in the kind of action it is.” (Thomas and Waluchow 27). Even though Ms. A has been in formed that there is a ninety-percent chance of complete cure she is still hesitant to have the surgery performed. She does however mention that it would be something that she would have to face, which assumes that she is aware that it is inevitable. Since Kant’s theory does not take into account the final consequence of people’s actions, the morality of the act then has to be examined. Once again, the doctor must have Ms. A’s best interests at heart. Since, he knows that she is aware that the surgery is inevitable then by telling her about the risks would cause her to postpone it but only for a certain amount of time until she is comfortable with it. The doctor also knows that the cancer is in the early stages and even though it might not be recommended that Ms. A postpone the surgery, he is able to consider it as well. Thus, the question remains then of what would be the moral decision to make. Agreeing with Kant’s theory would make it safe to assume that the moral action would be that the doctor should tell Ms. A of all the risks involved and if she chooses to postpone it than it is her prerogative.
My initial reaction to the case study warranted telling Ms. A everything she needed to know about the surgery and allow her to make an informed decision. However, because the physician mentioned that globally things would probably go well than why should Ms. A postpone the surgery especially due to unnecessary anxiety? If she can be cured of the disease as early as possible than she should have the surgery done. I changed my mind after careful thought and I have to agree that telling the husband of the risks involved would be better than telling Ms. A. Also, another solution, seeing that Ms. A was distraught over the idea, could be telling both Ms. A and her husband together. That way she has the family support she needs, when she needs it.
Therefore, it is human nature to have fear, sometimes knowing more about the situation helps, sometimes it does not. The consequences of actions should always be measured highly when taking into account the treatment of a patient. Support should always be available in any case through the physician and family. After examining the theories above, the act/rule utilitarian theory seems to be superior to the theory of Kant. Everyone should be entitled to make informed decisions however at times people’s judgments are clouded by fear, anxiety, or apprehension. It is easy for people’s imagination to take over and create convoluted consequences to something that is routine procedure.
Case Study: Moral Issues