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Ethical Dilemma in Healthcare: Applying Ethical Theories


You are required to write an essay of not more than 3,000 words, critically discussing the application of ethical theories or approaches to the ethical dilemma in your chosen case study.

In the written assessment students should:  

·describe the case-study containing an ethical dilemma. This should be no more than 200 words. (Make sure your dilemma is realistic).   

·identify the ethical issues the dilemma raises – there will be more than one.

·identify the different people involved, describe how each one might view the dilemma, and explain why they take this position. (Different people might include patients, users, carers, family members, the general public, pressure groups, front-line professional workers, health and social care assistants, youth workers, service managers);

·identify and discuss potential conflict(s) and points of agreement in terms of ethical arguments;

·consider how gender, ethnicity, religion, age, sexuality, etc might influence how people respond to the ethical dilemma

·consider how far relevant codes of professional conduct and law, as applied to the dilemma, help with arriving at a moral solution.

The most common mistake people make is to rely on unsupported assumptions in their essays. There is nothing wrong with making assumptions, but you should acknowledge that this is what you are doing, and be aware that this kind of assumption does not help your argument. For example, if your essay title is ‘Is animal testing morally acceptable?’ it is not sufficient to say

1) ‘Animal testing is morally acceptable because animals are less important than human beings.’

This kind of statement does not explore the topic, and would be penalised in an essay. How does the writer know that animals are less important than human beings? There is no evidence or argument to convince the reader. However, she could say:

2) ‘If we accept that animals are less important than human beings, it is possible to argue in favour of animal testing as follows…’

3) ‘I believe that animals are less important than human beings, but for those who don’t agree with this, the following arguments may be relevant…’

In examples 2 and 3, the assumption is still unsupported, but its position in the argument is changed. The writer does not use the assumption to provide an answer to the question, but uses it as a starting point for her argument.

What is the moral thing for the professional to do in this case?

Further guidance for essay

·Include a clear introduction and explain the structure of the essay

·Apply deontology, utilitarianism as well as relevant ethical principles, theories, codes of conduct and lastly, come to a supported judgment on your preferred way to resolve Katherine’s case

·Discuss about the withdrawal of treatment i.e. the ventilator

·Use accurate in-text citations for each sentence and include many in-text citations as possible where necessary

·Use Arial font for in-text citations and list of references with font size 10

·Use criticality in writing while applying theories to resolve the case Do not

·Discuss about issues of euthanasia or mercy killing because they are not part of the case study but instead refer to the withdrawal of treatment i.e. the ventilator

·Include more than one author’s name in each citation

·Use descriptive language and make claims which do not resonate with the case study

·Use different fonts for citations and references, only the Arial font should be used for each reference

·Include references from websites or newspapers, only references from textbooks and peer-reviewed journals should be use

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