Hospital Memorandum on Heart Transplant
To: The Peer Review Committee
From: The Lead Surgeon
Date: June 16, 2019
Subject: Decision-making in the Ethical Dilemma concerning instant Heart Surgery
Content: Medical Professionals encounter miscellaneous ethical and moral dilemmas at least once during their professional span that require excellent time-friendly decision making skills driven by the authority and context. I, being a Lead Surgeon, was encountered by an ethical dilemma regarding instant heart surgery of four prospective patients; 55 years old family man Jerry, 12 years old Lisa who is having life long illness, 38 years old homeless male drug abuser Ozzy, and a 35 years old male oncologist and Lisa’s father Dr. Doe. Soon after receiving a call that a heart has been arranged for instant surgery, I was struck by an ethical dilemma because it was just one heart for the four equally deserving patients. I had no one to consult for decision-making except one philosopher John Stuart Mill who proposed the theory of utilitarianism—anything that brings good and happiness for the most must be considered as ethical. Hence, he focused on the wellbeing of society, eliminating the concept of right and wrong determined by the societal norms (Brown, 1973). Based on this philosophy, I decided to operate Dr. Doe who is primordially an oncologist.
Solution finds its way whenever the problem emerges; philosophers have propounded various notions regarding ethical values that not only provide best-possible potential frameworks for supporting professional decision-making but also define various standards of ethics. As I mentioned earlier, I would decide to operate Dr. Doe because he is an oncologist. He belongs to a profession that is the crux of human nature; saving his life means saving a pool of cancer patients who are fighting a constant battle against their deteriorated illness. If I go for saving the other three patients, I might be saving only single of them but if I decide to save a person who is a medical professional; who spends most of his day serving patients on their death bed, who acts as a trivial strand of hope for their evaporating lives; who attempts to lessen their lingering sense of uncertainty and despair through his clinical practice and the one who has served and treated numerous hopeless creatures miraculously; I would be saving the right one. If I do not make decision based on the family dynamics of the patients, I might be considered as an ethical criminal or an immoral creature but I would disregard sentimental ethics here because saving numerous lives is a more desired priority for me as compared to saving a single life. His $2 million would be disregarded because compensation is less important than a skillful professional; hospital may also get substantial fiscal remittance from some other well- heeled members of the society.
My decision would support the ethical ideas of renowned philosophers Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill because they focused more on the happiness of masses rather than the happiness and wellbeing of a single individual (Brown, 1973; Warke, 2000). They suggested that everyone is equally deserving but the wellbeing of masses must be prioritized than that of a single human being—ethics is all about the matter of priority. Before they propounded their ideas, it was a common perception that ethics revolve around sentiments and marked distinctive definitions that varied person to person and situation to situation. Both the philosophers settled the definition of ethics on the universal grounds, providing it with the utmost acceptability where no one could object the standard of right and wrong, using it as an individual attribute; they supported the macro view of society. Hence, philosophical ideas from both of these figures support my decision.
Brown, D. G. (1973). What is Mill’s Principle of Utility? in: Canadian Journal of Philosophy 3 (1), 1-12.
Warke, T. (2000). Multi-Dimensional Utility and the Index Number Problem: Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, and Qualitative Hedonism”, Utilitas, 12 (2), 176–203.
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