Decision Making Capabilities


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In instances where the patient does not possess the decision making capabilities, his or her surrogate can step in and make the crucial decision. In this text; given the scenario recounted, where Bill is incapable of making a decision which could leave him with a reduced cognitive function, I concern myself with the various scenarios recounted supposing am a member of a five person medical team deliberating on the ethical issues surrounding the operation/procedure.

A discussion

It is important to note that before discussing this issue with my team, I would consider asking a number of key questions with regard to the life partner. To begin with, I would seek to find out her knowledge of Bill’s values as well as beliefs. His would help in speculation, rather accurately, on how the patient would react were he to be made aware of the issue and choice at hand. This would especially be appropriate to get a clearer picture of the wishes of the patient. In instances where the life partner cannot sufficiently answer this question, it would be appropriate for her to come up with a decision based on the best interests of the patient. Secondly, I would seek to find out the ability of the life partner to come up with a concise decision as well as her capacity to make choices.

In my own words, one of the strongest ethical arguments for the procedure is that it would give Bill a chance to live. Considering his age, Bill still has some years left to make use of and hence in my own opinion, the life saving procedure is appropriate from an ethical point of view given that he also has a competent life partner who can act as his surrogate. On the other hand, the procedure has some unethical undertones. To begin with, the procedure has a significantly high percentage of affecting the cognitive functions of Bill. Hence given that bill, according to his surrogate, would not want to live with mental capacities that are in one way or the other severely limited, it would not be in order to carry on with the procedure. The case recounts that Bill takes pride on his mental acuity in that a case, a procedure that has a high probability of taking away that acuity from him would go against his every desire were he to be capable of making such a crucial decision.

Suppose I was a patient incapable of making such a crucial decision, just like Bill is, there are a number of things that I would hope the team weighs in on quite thoroughly before he formulate their decision. First and foremost would be my own best interests. I would love a scenario where the team takes into consideration my best interests and what would benefit me most before making the crucial decision. Secondly, I would prefer that the team takes into consideration the chances of such a procedure having adverse effects on me and my ability to function normally.


In conclusion, it may be noted that in a scenario like the one recounted above, the importance of the surrogate cannot be overstated. However, the surrogate should always align his or her opinions on the best interests of the patient when the patient is incapable of making the crucial decision.


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