End of Life Care from the Deontological Perspective
Healthcare providers are bound by law to act with high ethical regard, for they often hold our lives in their hands. One could even say that a healthcare provider has a duty to act in the best interest of his or her patient. The deontological theory is defined as the duty or obligation to act within a universal law of maxims (Mosser, 2013). In order to provide high quality, ethical care, healthcare organizations must establish a set of universal maxims much like the deontological theory. The duty to do no harm is imperative for a healthcare provider to consider, especially when considering a patient’s right to choose whether to live or die.
Healthcare providers are bound by a code of ethics. Within this code are the principles of beneficence and non-maleficence. With these principles in mind, healthcare providers have a duty to do no harm, neither psychological nor physical. In the topic of death and dying, a provider would then have a responsibility or duty to treat every patient as he or she would want to be treated. Which would most likely mean that he or she would want autonomy regarding his or her health and would thereby be obligated to grant each patient autonomy to do the same. For example, if a provider would want the autonomy to forego a treatment, despite expert advice, then he or she would have to grant his or her patient the same autonomy.
This duty can become especially hard when a patient’s family is involved. A patient may wish to forego a treatment and end his or her life despite the family’s wishes. Therefore, one might ask if the duty of the healthcare provider is to the patient or the family, and this is where the healthcare provider’s conundrum can be found. However, in this case philosopher Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative could apply, as the healthcare provider would have an obligation or demand without exception to follow the patient’s wishes and not necessarily...