The ethical theory that Dr. Pou was using
In this scenario, Dr. Pou seems to be using beneficence ethical theory. This theory can be explained as an act of kindness, mercy, and charity with a strong connotation of doing good to others. Health professionals are guided by this theory by being encouraged to deliver the best to their clients or doing good on behalf of someone else other than themselves (Morrison, 2016). If for example, a health professional is determined to serve his or her patients by assisting them to improve or maintain their health status, he or she can be said to be acting beneficently towards that clients he serves. Similarly, Dr. Pou was being guided by this theory by trying to relieve or end pain among the severely affected patients at the Memorial Medical Center (The New York times Magazine, 2009). Precisely, when the Katrina hurricane occurred, majority of individuals were severely affected, to such an extent that it was challenging for the hospital to cater or attend to the high workload of patients who needed emergency care.
On seeing how most of the affected individuals were suffering in pain, Dr. Pou felt mercy on them, and she knew that she can do very little to save their lives. Actually, based on her preliminary assessment, some of the individuals were severely affected by the hurricane to such an extent that their chances of surviving even after being given medical care were close to impossible (Hoffmaster et al., 2009). Instead of letting them continue to suffer in pain and eventually die, she thought it was wise to eliminate their pain by injecting them with morphine or the sedative midazolam, or both. Her actions were equivalent to mercy killing, where a health professional opt to terminate the life of a patient suffering from a terminal illness in order to relieve him or her from extreme pain. Though Dr. Pou never sought informed consent from the hurricane victims or from their relatives (especially to those who could not have managed to communicate) her actions were merely out of mercy rather than from any ill intention as many claimed.
Consecutively, Dr. Pou`s actions were also guided by the ethical theory of justice (Morrison, 2016). Precisely, her argument was that patients who have limited chances of surviving especially during an emergency should be the last to be attended, while those who have high chances of surviving should be the first ones to be attended. Her arguments are justified, since in most cases, patients who are in critical conditions end up using a lot of medical resources and eventually succumb to the severity of their illnesses or injuries. Instead, these medical resources could have been used to save a higher number of patients who have higher chances of surviving. This was one o
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