University of Louisiana at Monroe Health Care Ethics Paper

On March 31, 2005 Terri Schindler Schiavo died of dehydration and starvation following a Florida judge’s order to remove these “medical treatments” (artificial life support) 14 days prior.  Terri Schiavo’s case gained national and international media attention as her family took the case to the Florida Governor’s Office and the U.S. Congress.  Terri Shiavo’s case is unique in the following ways: 

She was institutionalized for 15 years following cardiac arrest of unknown origin. 

She was not terminally ill or in a coma, therefore this was not an end of life case. 

There was medical conflict regarding whether or not she was in a permanent vegetative state. 

She needed no outside medical equipment to sustain life, except food and hydration.  She required a feeding tube. 

She had no living will in place. 

There was conflict between her husband and her family regarding belief of her wishes to sustain life. 

Research the Terri Schiavo case and be prepared to discuss the medical ethics involved.  Address the following questions in your discussion and papers: 

What ethical principles were violated in this case?  Provide examples for each principle. 

Was adequate evidence provided to Judge Greer to determine Terri Schiavo’s wishes in the absence of a written living will?  Why or why not? 

It is argued that there was a conflict of interest in Michael Schiavo’s guardianship of Terri.  Was there a conflict of interest in his guardianship from an ethical standpoint?  If so, do you believe the potential conflict of interest influenced his decision-making ability?  Explain. 

Discuss the ethics of involving the state and federal government in a medical case regarding sustaining life.  Should this be a political issue, i.e. part of a political platform?  Explain. 

Do you believe the feeding tube should have been removed in the Terri Schiavo case?  Why or why not?  

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