The ethical dilemma that stuck to to me the most while watching the documentary was the care Jessica provided to the 34-year male Roger Brown. He was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at four years old. “Muscular dystrophy is a group of diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscular mass” (“Muscular dystrophy”, 2018). According to “Muscular dystrophy”, the genes are abnormal, and they mutate interfering with the production of proteins needed to form healthy muscle (2018). This disease is very common in young males. There is no cure, but medications and therapy can try to help manage symptoms and slow the course of the disease. The normal life expectancy is approximately twenty years, Roger exceeded this. Symptoms may include, “frequent falls, waddling gait, walking on the toes, large calf muscles, muscle pain/stiffness and respiratory complications” (“Muscular dystrophy”, 2018). The ethical dilemma faced here was informed consent, “Concerns that patients and their families have not been fully informed about there treatment or clinical prognosis is a common ethical concern for nurses” (“Muscular dystrophy”, 2018).
Often, patients feel more comfortable asking a nurse to decipher what their doctor say because of comprehension, especially with end life decision making. In one party of the documentary Jessica is faced to discuss end of life care with Roger and his mom due to the progression of his disease especially impacting his respiratory status. Jessica conflict was Rogers age. Normally treating a person of his age, you would take aggressive measures. But regarding Rogers health, his EF is 20%, fluid buildup, heart failure, kidney stones and generalized pain. He had multiple co-morbidities that Jessica knew if his heart stop beating, performing CPR to prolong his life would cause more harm to him. At first Roger wanted to continue aggressive measures so he could continue his life if he could. Jessica had to find another approach to assist Roger and his mother to understand the progression of his disease. She helped him understand that he wasn’t getting better regardless of his treatment. Aggressive measures and hospice/palliative care services are two different treatments. Jessica had a difficult time discussing this because she was fully aware Rogers time was near. She did a great job explaining to Roger and his mother what would happen once he starts to transition. Many people are faced with difficult decision regarding code status, hospice and palliative care services in their lifetime. End of life should be a smooth transition, but it is often difficult because people find it hard to accept.
One important factor that affects ethical decision making is your personal belief system (Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O’Grady, 2014). Your life experiences over a period may change your personal values Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O’Grady, 2014). My personal beliefs are inline with Jessica with this ethical dilemma. I feel end of life patients should have pain and symptoms management. I would also assist the patient and family through the dying and death process, so the anxiety and fear can be decreased like Jessica did. Advocacy for the patient is key to me. For a person to give great end of life care appropriately, effective communication should take place.
Becoming an adult gerontology nurse practitioner, I will be the spokesperson for my patient and honor their rights and give them dignity. I will ensure my patients are informed on what advance directives and living wills are in case they ever are unable to make a sound decision and they wouldn’t want to put that burden on there love ones. Everyone should honor a patient wishes as it is not causing any harm. Through education with end of life, DNR, palliative care services, hospice services and advance directives the tales will be eliminated, and anxiety/fear will be decreased (Hamric, Hanson, Tracy, & O’Grady, 2014).
One mechanism to overcome barriers is recognizing a patient needs and making
patient and families aware of additional services such as palliative care. It is for patient with life threatening illness. “Patient have better quality of life and live longer and cost the health system less”, with palliative care services (Perrin & Kazonowski, 2015). Barriers to palliative care consultation for patients in critical care include misunderstanding. Palliative care undermines the focus of saving the patient life is what some feel. Providers often have difficult time determine when critically ill patients are approaching the end of life, often causing patients to die in pain. According to Perrin & Kazonowski, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life threatening illness (2015). APN can emphasize to families that symptom management care to the patient can improve a patient outcome.
When the dying process is detected earlier, comfort focused treatment goals are initiated sooner. When appropriate, patients are moved to lower intensity care site (Perrin & Kazonowski, 2015). Length of stay in the intensive care unit is decreased (Perrin & Kazonowski, 2015). Cost of care is reduced because realistic goals are established. Staff would receive support for patients and families. The need for repeat admission could be reduced because treatment goals have been clarified. And lastly, with palliative care the patient and families would have continuity of care with familiar faces because they would be followed from the hospital, to skilled/long term care or home.