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First, Do No Harm
An Analysis of Ethical Issues

“What is life worth? And what is a life worth living?” According to Lisa Belkin this is not an easy question to answer. In her book, First, Do No Harm, Lisa follows four different patients and their families and their struggle to answer these complex, sometimes impossible questions. When issues such as medical futility, patients with no health coverage, and infants with serious birth defects arise the ethical issues are vast. Questions surrounding the ethical treatment of these patients and most importantly the best treatment for the patients are faced at hospitals throughout the country on a daily basis. The answers rarely come easy and the ethical responsibilities of the medical professionals in conjunction with the struggle to provide the best care are prevalent in each and every case.

How long should a doctor continue treatment when the chance of survival is minimal to none? With the advanced medical technology it is easy to keep critically ill patients, like Patrick Dismuke, alive longer than ever before; feeding tubes, advanced antibiotics, ventilators, radiation and many other invasive techniques are at the doctors dispense. After all treatments have been exhausted the patient can become a Do Not Resuscitate patient or (DNR), because any further medical treatment is deemed futile. However, there are certain cultures that will never allow a patient to become DNR based in their spiritual and cultural background. This of course is always taken into consideration and medical professionals will do whatever possible to save the life of the patient at the family’s request. Once a patient becomes DNR the goal then becomes not to prolong the life of the patient but to make the life the patient has left as comfortable as possible. Care in the end stages of disease is known as Hospice Care of Palliative CARE. During this time they are normally treated with medication to ease the pain with no further...
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