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Health, Medicine, Nursing
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Ethical Dilemma Baby K. Health, Medicine, Nursing Essay (Essay Sample)


Read the case study below and answer the following questions. (1 1/2 - 2 pages including in-text citations and references in proper APA format). Your answers to each question should be based on your reading of Darr. If necessary, you may refer to the text. Your answers should demonstrate your understanding of the terms as well as your ability to apply them to the case of Baby K (given the limited facts provided.)
1)Discuss what makes this an ethical dilemma.
2)Discuss the implications of this study in terms of the moral principles described in chapter 1. Respect for persons: Did the hospital/ physicians allow the parents to be autonomous in their decision-making? Do you see any elements of paternalism on behalf of the physicians? Beneficence: Did the hospital/ physicians act beneficently? Nonmaleficence: Did the hospital/ physicians consider nonmaleficence? Justice: Did the hospital act in a just way?
Baby K was born at Fairfax Hospital in Northern Virginia on October 13, 1992. Although her face was beautiful, the top of her head was flat. She had no brain The baby's mother knew from the 16th week of her pregnancy that Baby K's brain had not developed. Baby K had no cerebrum and no cerebellum, but she did have a normal brain stern. The mother was told that babies with "anencephaly"- from the Greek words for negative (an) and brain (enkephalos) - cannot see, hear, or feel anything no matter how long they live. Baby K would have no thoughts, and she would never achieve "personhood." If she were born alive, her brain stem would prompt her heart to beat and her lungs to pump air in and out of her body. Baby K, like other babies with anencephaly, would be "born dying" but would not be technically brain dead. Anencephaly is one condition, perhaps the only one, that all doctors agree is futile to treat. The general consensus among medical, legal, and other experts is that heroic measures should not be used to keep such babies alive. But Baby K's mother balked. She wanted to keep her baby alive no matter what the cost. She was motivated by a strong and sincerely held religious belief that "all life is precious" and that a higher being, rather than herself or the doctors or the law, should decide how long her baby would live. Baby K held on (most babies with anencephaly die within the first few days of their lives) and finally left the hospital when she was seven weeks old. No neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) would accept her, so she went to a nursing home.
Darr, K. (2011). Ethics in Health Services Management (5th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Health Professions Press, Inc.


Ethical Dilemma Baby K
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Ethical Dilemma Baby K
What makes this an ethical dilemma?
The primary goal of a hospital is to offer care to patients regardless of their conditions. However, in the case under study, the hospital could not offer any care to Baby K. Baby K’s condition made it difficult for the hospital to offer any care because as the study says, “doctors agree” anencephaly is “futile to treat.” So, the ethical dilemma lies with the hospital’s predicament of having the mother of Baby K understand the futility of trying to keep Baby K alive. 

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