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Nursing Legal and Ethical Issues Case

Ethical Discussion

Aging is the period of hard decisions, a variety of ethical approaches, and the inabilities to decide what is right or wrong with respect to a particular situation. As a rule, the elderly start planning their old age beforehand discusses their preferences and demands, defines the most appropriate ways of treatment, etc. The case study under analysis introduces the family with a wife, Ann, who has Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia, and a husband, Frank with a daughter Sarah, who have to decide whether it is correct to provide Ann with the necessary feeding tube in spite of the fact that Ann and Franks have already discussed the denial of any breathing machines to support the life that could never be the same.

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In fact, it is an ethically difficult situation for the husband and daughter to decide whether it is possible and appropriate to neglect Ann’s demands and save her “life” or support her starving and promote her further death. According to the existing medical principles, patients have a right to choose the way of treatment (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2013). Still, usually, their decisions have to be proved by a written form. Though it is necessary to remember that ethics is not only paper stuff. It is ethically correct to stay humane and respect the solutions made even orally. This is why, from an ethical point of view, it is acceptable to refuse a feeding tube and let the natural state of affair takes place. However, the examples show that the majority of ethical discussions are about not doing harm to a person (Gauthier, Leuzy, Racine, & Rosa-Neto, 2013), and in this case, it is harmful to Ann not to be fed by means of tubes.

The law and all legal principles are closely connected to ethics as they aim at codifying ethics. The law is considered to be a kind of the public’s instrument that exists within the frames of certain social guidelines (Burkhardt & Nathaniel, 2015). The case of Ann and Frank is actually legally clear. There is no evidence about the necessity to deny feeding tubes or breathing machines. Everything has been orally discussed. This is why as soon as nurses and doctors get access to the patient with such a diagnosis as Ann has, they are obliged to offer the most appropriate treatment and support life as long as possible. It can be a violation of the law if the doctors and even the closest members of a family break the already established rules just in order to follow the demands of a particular person without legally supported facts.


Taking into consideration the situation Ann, Frank, and Sarah are involved in, I, as a nurse, can provide them with the following piece of advice. It is not an easy task to decide whether it is correct to follow the demands of a person, personal demands, and the doctor’s suggestions. If this family finds it necessary to respect the desire of a wife, it is possible to prove that there are no deviations because Ann mentioned her desire not to be supported with a breathing machine.

A feeding tube cannot be compared to the machine. This is why, if there is a chance to prolong the life of a person, it has to be used. There is nothing wrong with a desire not to let the beloved person go. It is normal to have doubts and make the decisions that contradict someone’s expectations. If there is a chance (justified by a doctor) to save Ann’s life (even with Alzheimer’s disease), it has never been neglected in order to hear another “Hello” or “I am…”.


Burkhardt, M.A. & Nathaniel, A. (2013). Legal and ethical issues in nursing. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning. Web.

Gauthier, S., Leuzy, A., Racince, E., & Rosa-Neto, P. (2012). Diagnosis and management of Alzheimer’s disease: Past, present and future ethical issues. Progress in Neurobiology, 110, 102-113. Web.

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