End of Life Decision Essay Example

End of Life Decision Essay Example


End of life decision is painful to make but very important in deciding one’s fate. More often than not, people write a will to express their holding and opinion about these choices. Furthermore,it is more challenging to make a decision for someone dying without a will or someone without the ability to choose his or her life. There are two tactics of solving this mystery. One of the approaches is requires empathy which entails putting oneself in the shoes of the dying person in an attempt to imagine the choice that person would choose regarding his life.  Teno et al., (2014) explains that the aim of using this approach is to come up with a tentative judgment regarding the choice the victim would make. The other method entails coming up with the best decision regarding the fate of the dying person. End of Life Decision Essay Example

Deciding on behalf of the patient requires careful analysis of all possible solutions to incline on the best. Often such decisions are made by a family member, relatives or a spouse. A lot of information about the patient needs to be analysed. The decision maker is often mounted with a lot of pressure concerning the resolution since it ought to be rational and sound. An excellent example of such a situation is Terri Schiavo’s case. End of life decisions taken in good will of a suffering patient are ethical and legal as depicted by Terry Schiavo’s case. This paper will therefore review the sad story of Terri in support.End of Life Decision Essay Example


Terri Schiavo had suffered a cardiac arrest at her workplace triggered by low levels of potassium in her body (Blendon et al., 2010). Before paramedics could intervene, her condition worsened making her unconscious. The situation escalated damaging her brain and impairing cognitive function. After physicians assessed her,they declared her condition as persistent vegetative state.  Tilden et al., (2011) define this condition as a ‘chronic state of brain impairment’ in which a patient fails to explicit signs of awareness. The situation, however, is treatable but with no cure. She was taken to University of California in an attempt to stimulate her brain back to normal functioning in 1990. Her spouse Michael Schiavo worked in hand with her parent in order to save her life. Earlier, she had suffered from bulimia a condition her obstetrician failed to diagnose.End of Life Decision Essay Example

Michael pressed charges against her obstetrician stating that he had failed to diagnose thedisorder initiated by improper nutrition which eventually escalated to a cardiac arrest. He managed to win the malpractice case with compensation from the hospital. He awarded some money to Mr and MrsSchindler, Terri’s parents, and deposited some in the healthcare unit to facilitate Terri’s medication. The family accusedMichael of greed obliging him to share the money with them (Gostin, 2015). This marked the start of a conflict between Michael and the family. Michael was appointed the guardian to Terri.

After nearly ten years of supported care through provision of food and nutrition through a tube, Michael filed a petition in requesting removal of the tube. He purported that Terri would not wish her life to be supported by a machine. Her second guardian Richard Pearse endorsed the physician verdict that she was in a persistent vegetative state described by the Florida statutes. The statues define the state as the ‘absence of voluntary action that hinders purposeful interactions.’End of Life Decision Essay Example

However, he asserted that Michael wanted to inherit her property in light of the absence of a living will (Blendon et al., 2010). Michael was in a tight spot of deciding the fate of her wife. Judge George Greer sought to determine what really would be the wish of Terri either to continue with the medical procedures to foster prolonged life or to die. Michael Schiavo was filling the petition to allow peaceful death of his wife while the parents viewed the move as malicious driven by greed to inherit property. In early February 2000, the jury stated that the evidence present of the oral declaration was satisfactory to make a ruling. A ruling was resolved requiring removal of the feeding tube. The  Schindler tabled a motion requesting assisted feeding which is not one of the methods of prolonging life under Florida law. However, the judge declined the proposal citing evidence from health records of unresponsiveness.End of Life Decision Essay Example

The tube was removed as per the judge directive on April 24, 2001. Again the Schindler filed another petition stating that Terri was in a position to make an independent decision (Gostin, 2015). Following the request, the judge orderedbothparties to seek two physicians to investigate if Terri wasreally in a persistent vegetative state as earlier stated. The court also contracted an external physician to investigate the case. The physician from Michael Schiavo side reaffirmed that indeed she was in that state. On the contrary, the physician from Schindler side stated that she was only in a minimally conscious state. The Supreme Court ruled reinsertion of the feed tube to pave way for more considerations.

The case sparked a lot of heat with the media magnifying itelucidating rivalry between the two court rulings. Activists chipped in to intervene which further led to a political intervention. Following the investigation, the judge resolved that the condition was irreversible and she was not in a position to heal since she was beyond improvement. Tilden et al., (2011) stipulate that the governor ordered Terri to be shifted to Morton plant rehabilitation which fuelled the political heat. Michael, however, continued pressing charges to the Supreme Court. Following a parliamentary meeting, it was resolved that the case betransferred back to federal courts. The attorney earlier had barred the Schindlers from participating in the supreme case.End of Life Decision Essay Example


Judge Greer, directed custody of Terri Schiavo upon realization that the governor was making plans with a local hospital for reinsertion of the feeding tube. The governor submittedto the law requiring him to refrain from the case since it would lead to conflict between the law enforcers at Pineal Hospital and Florida. She died on 31st March 2005 at the hospital following tube removal. The case provided a guideline for execution of justice to such a similar case in Florida courts which was non-existent. The decision was ethical since itrelieved Terri Schiavo the pain and struggle she was enduring for 15 years. It became ethical and logical in Florida to stop administering medication to a dying patient with no signs of returning back to a healthy state.End of Life Decision Essay Example


Michael found himself in a tight spot of deciding his wife’s fate. He arrived at the best decision. Thecourt placed him on a higher decision making level than her family as the guardian. It was his decision that mattered most to court than the family. The difference in opinion between Schindlers and Michael brought the rift. Michael was justified to push for the removal of the tube in light with the medical situationhis wife was in. Based on the fact that the situation was terminal without cure or irreversibility, he felt his wife would never be the same again. As the court found that administration of life-supporting procedure was against Terri Schiavo will, instituting them would be both illegal and unethical.End of Life Decision Essay Example

Reference list

Blendon, R. J., Benson, J. M., & Herrmann, M. J. (2010). The American public and the Terri Schiavo case. Archives of Internal Medicine, 165(22), 2580-2584.


Gostin, L. O. (2015). Ethics, the constitution, and the dying process: the case of Theresa Marie Schiavo. Jama, 293(19), 2403-2407.


Teno, J. M., Clarridge, B. R., Casey, V., Welch, L. C., Wetle, T., Shield, R., & Mor, V. (2014). Family perspectives on end-of-life care at the last place of care. Jama, 291(1), 88-93.


Tilden, V. P., Tolle, S. W., Nelson, C. A., & Fields, J. (2011). Family decision-making to withdraw life-sustaining treatments from hospitalized patients. Nursing Research, 50(2), 105-115. End of Life Decision Essay Example

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