Providing end-of-life care is a process that involves addressing multiple ethical and moral dilemmas, the choice between continuing largely pointless life support and encouraging family members to accept the inevitable and choose to end it for a patient being the most difficult one. The case of Tonya Archer features a tremendously challenging issue of convincing parents of a child who suffered brain death to recognize the necessity to end life support for the patient. Although the specified decision will cause the parents tremendous trauma and suffering, it is necessary to introduce them to the situation honestly and unambiguously, thus, convincing them to end life support for Tanya. The solution in question supported by the therapy for parents allowing them to transition to another way of grieving and embracing their loss is the most ethical in the specified scenario since it does not diminish the parents’ grief by feeding into the their current delusion but, instead, offers them a more realistic and effective way of coping with the loss.
The necessity for the healthcare staff to terminate life support for the patient can be supported by several critical principles of healthcare ethics, particularly, the notions of beneficence and nonmaleficence should be applied to the case at hand. While complying with the parents’ decision to leave the life support on should be regarded as alignment with the notion of patient autonomy, one must realize that the parents’ choice is rooted in their lack of understanding of the current situation. Since most bioethicists would consider the described scenario as the patient’s death, the parents need to be informed so that they could view it as such.
Admittedly, the specified view represents a rather niche argument that is not typically supported by the current approach to applying healthcare code of ethics. Specifically, with parents representing the patient and her needs in the specified scenario, their autonomy would likely be prioritized by most healthcare professionals (McPherson et al., 2019). However, it appears that the specified stance is misguided and will only cause the patient’s suffering to exacerbate. Likewise, the hospital identified in the previous independent research would have to be convinced to accept the proposed point of view regarding the patient’s condition and the necessity to terminate life support. Similarly, an accredited body such as the Joint Commission may not support the specified decision immediately; however, upon being introduced to a set of arguments concerning the legitimacy of the proposed strategy, the Joint Commission members will most likely agree with it. Namely, the commission members will agree that the solution in question appears to be the most empathetic regarding the patient’s status and the possibility of prolonging her suffering. Furthermore, the offered option does not feed the parents’ delusions concerning their daughter’s miraculous recovery but, instead, allows treating them with dignity by recognizing their needs and their critical faculties to an equal extent.
The choice of ceasing life support for the patient must be deemed as the most legitimate end-of-life care approach in the described scenario since it demonstrates respect for the parents’ grief and recognizes their and the patient’s dignity while representing the most rational solution. Therefore, it is recommended that parents should be introduced to counseling and therapy that will allow them to embrace their loss and cope with it accordingly. In turn, the life support for Tonya will have to be ceased since her brain functions will not be restored and she will not be capable of ever regaining consciousness. Although the specified decision is nearly inhumanely difficult to make, it needs to be accepted as the only possible choice.
McPherson, K., Carlos III, W. G., Emmett, T. W., Slaven, J. E., & Torke, A. M. (2019). Limitation of life‐sustaining care in the critically ill: A systematic review of the literature. Journal of hospital medicine, 14(5), 303-310.