Step I Article Reviews Examples
Physicians in general often face ethical dilemmas when deciding the best course of action for treating a medical case. In today´s age of information, this can become even more frequent as patients have access to information about alternative treatments and medical information that could contradict the doctor´s decisions. This is the situation in the case of Mrs. Smith and Dr. Rust.
Dr. Rust, making use of his professional expertise and experience as a pediatrician, diagnoses a case of Otitis media on Mrs. Smith´s child that would, in his opinion, resolve itself in a few days. However Mr. Smith, seeing that her child is in pain and wanting the suffering to stop as soon as possible, urges Dr. Rust to prescribe antibiotics.
A study showed that there is no significant difference in recovery from otitis media between toddlers treated with antibiotics and those who were given a placebo . In fact there was only a 6% difference, and the treatment did not relieve the pain in the patients. Moreover, many of them showed several side effects that worsened the situation of the patients .
I personally understand what Mrs. Smith thinks the doctor should do. Her utilitarian view is that the doctor should minimize the amount of suffering that her kid is enduring, and that is a good in itself. On the other hand, the doctor could be said that he is following a deontological code as he believes that it is a good in itself to follow rules that are universal. However, seeing it under a consequentialist light, the doctor might be aware that, in fact, antibiotics could worsen the child´s situation by causing undesirable side effects, and would also put the rest of the population in danger by increasing the chances of apparition of resistant bacteria.
However, there are some options that should be taken into consideration, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. First, the doctor could offer to treat the child with pain relievers. This would minimize his suffering for the time it takes the otitis to resolve, but might not appease Mrs. Smith´s understandable anguish. Second, Mrs. Smith might look for a second opinion or further examination of the child´s infection. This would cost money and time, but in the end it could reveal if the child has indeed a bacterial infection, or at least demonstrate that the infection is viral and the child has no need for antibiotics. Thirdly, the woman could ignore all the warnings, and convince the doctor to prescribe antibiotics. The child would be unnecessarily exposed to the side effects, worsening his situation, but at least she would rest assured that the doctor did all he could to treat her child.
Assuming that Dr. Rust collected all medical evidence, making the necessary blood tests and sample collection, I would trust he has the necessary elements to conclude the child´s infection is not caused by a bacteria. His prognosis is then correct and his reluctance to treat the case with antibiotics is well founded. However, I would ask him to prescribe pain relievers so the suffering of my child is minimized.
Falco, Miriam. "Antibiotics Speed Up Recovery From Ear Infections in Young Children, Studies Show." 13 January 2011. CNN. 4 April 2014. <http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/13/antibiotics-speed-up-recovery-from-ear-infections-in-young-children-studies-show/>.
—. "Study: Antibiotics Have Little Impact on Child Ear Infections." 17 November 2010. CNN. 04 April 2014. <http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/16/antibiotics.ear.infections/index.html>.
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