Introduction over continuing their mother’s care’. The


Political debates on abortion, technological advancements, prolonging of life and other modern issues have affected the medical profession. Doctors and medical practitioners are confronted with various ethical issues.

The ethical issues include respect for people’s wishes, the need to uphold the policies of the health facilities which they work for, the need to protect and uphold the sanctity of life, the need to safeguard the health of a person and sometimes the need to fulfill the wishes of other people. As a result, doctors face medical dilemmas in the line of their work.

Currently, the medical dilemmas are on the rise due to the political debates on matters such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and other technological advancement sin the medical field (Kessler, 2010). So serious are the dilemmas that they end up in courts of law. This essay seeks to discuss a case of medical dilemma and compare what the courts of law said with the quotes from Noddings. The title of the case is: ‘A family fights over continuing their mother’s care’.

The Case

In the case, a mother of children was taken to hospital suffering a stroke and she was placed under ventilator. The doctors expressed their fears that the woman would not regain normal brain functioning.

One of her sons went to the hospital and told the doctors that in case his mother suffered any irreversible complications, the doctors should not take any measures to save her life. While working under the instructions of the son, the daughter of the woman visited the hospital and informed the doctors that they should do everything to save the life of the woman.

The daughter claimed that the son had given the instructions because he was not interested in saving the life of his mother. The mother was a widow and she had not specified the person to be responsible for her health. The doctors had difficulties making a choice on whose instructions to follow (Nanos, 2008).

Issues of the Case

Each person has the right of self-determination. In case a person is not able to determine his or her health, the spouse or any other person appointed by the patient should do so. If a person is widowed, the responsibility of making end-of-life decisions on the person lies with his or her children.

If there is no express proxy appointed by the person, all the children of that person have equal weight to make end-of-life decisions on the parent. When children give conflicting instructions, the doctors should determine and follow what the patient would want. They therefore have to look for substituted judgment on the statement or behavior that the patient may have shown regarding her wishes (Nanos, 2008).

The Outcome of the Case

The court held that a Do Not Resuscitate would be enacted until the legal and ethical issues on the case would be resolved. The children were informed that there was little that the doctors could do to reverse her condition. The doctors sought evidence of any indication of the patient on how she would like her health condition to be handled.

They used the comments made by the patient earlier on the Terri Schiavo case. The children could agree that their mother commended to the case that ‘the girl should be left to die in peace’. All the children agreed that no attempts should be made to resuscitate their mother. He died shortly after the decision (Nanos, 2008). Through the action, the courts, the doctors, and the children respected the woman’s right to self-determination.

Comparing and Contrasting the Outcome

In the case, the doctors did not have a final stand on what they should do or what they should not do about the patient. They discussed the ethical issues with the children and allowed the courts to make a decision.

Doctors should not say ‘I CAN NOT’ or ‘I MUST’. This is illustrated by the quote from Noddings that “one may reject the initial ‘I must’ if one feels ‘there is nothing [one] can do’ (p.109). Noddings also has a quote that “one feels the “moral ‘I must’ when [one] recognizes that [one’s] response will either enhance or diminish [one’s] ethical idea.

It will serve either to increase or decrease the likelihood of genuine caring.” This is similar to the reaction of the doctors in the case. The doctors acted to the best interest of the patient while waiting for the courts to settle the case. The case was also settled according to the Noddings case since the doctors were order to do what the patient would have wished to be done to her (Kessler, 2010).


Doctors are met with various medical dilemmas in the course of their work. It is during these times when the doctors should act within the ethical guidelines. They should always take actions and consider the welfare of a patient and the welfare of the other people. Doctors should learn to identify ethical issues, to debate the issues and to involve all the stakeholders in order to solve dilemmas easily. While dealing with a patient, the doctors should have the best interests of the patient at heart.

Teaching modules that touch on ethics and dealing with medical dilemmas should be incorporated in training programs for doctors and other medical practitioners (Kessler, 2010). Some hospitals and health centers have ethics teams, which are made of doctors, social workers, clergymen and legal practitioners. All these attempts are made to ensure that the doctors get guidelines to deal with the numerous medical dilemmas they face.


Kessler, G. (2010). Voices of Wisdom-A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. Bakersfield: California State University.

Nanos, J. (2008). Can One Sibling Pull the Plug If the Others Don’t Want To? And five other vexing medical dilemmas examined. New York Best Doctors. Retrieved from


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