Wednesday, October 8, 2008

John Q

I had to watch John Q for another class and saw that the movie embraced a huge ethical dilemma. For those who are not familiar with the movie. It is the story of a working class family (The Archibalds) whose life is about to change with an unexpected health tragedy. The son of the Archibalds is about 9 years old and while playing baseball one day he collapsed. He was taken to the hospital and the family was told that he needed a heart transplant but his insurance was not going to cover it. The heart transplant would cost $250,000 but in order to place the son on the list to receive a heart the family would have to pay $30,000 cash. The son did not have long to live and after coming up short on the deposit, the hospital decided to release the son.

Situations like this occur everyday in the United States. Families are not able to pay for health care and they are placed in situations such as this. Ethics is questioned when asking a family to make a cash payment to save the life of a child. This was a working class family who did not have the $30,000 to pay for the heart transplant deposit. They sold almost everything they had and still was not able to come up with the money. To add to the turmoil the hospital tried to release the child knowing he was not in good condition and would not live much longer without the transplant. The hospital should have had more alternatives for the family besides telling them to make a cash payment. I feel it is the responsibility of the hospital to help everyone especially those who need life saving treatment. One of the principles of ethics is beneficience which stands for the act of doing good. In this case, the hospital was not acting on this principle of ethics. In my opinion, asking a family to pay $30,000 and trying to release a dying child is not beneficience.

The principle of human dignity was also questioned in this dilemma. Human life is very significant and sending someone home to die does not constitute the right of human life. The hospital took away the child's right to live by refusing to place him on the list to receive a heart and trying to release him to go home. If the child only had a short time to live with the help of the hospital, imagine what would have happened if he would have went home without any medical treatment or support. The hospital did not consider this because receiving money seemed to be most important.

In the movie, the Archibalds had an HMO and one of the employees said that HMO receive incentives for not offering treatments to patients which raises another ethical dilemma. The father said that the child receives a check up every year and no doctor every said that he was healthy and had no conditions. The dilemma here is clear, if the doctors would have ran tests prior to the incident, they could have seen that the child did not have a healthy heart and could have possibly treated him. There have been many speculations that HMOs do not offer treatments and in return receive incentives at the end of the year. This is unethical because the job of the physician is to maintain the health of the patient. If the physician does not give all of the treatments they are reducing the quality of care as well as the health of the patient.

These were two ethical dilemmas in the movie John Q that I felt should be pointed out. It is important for health facilities to realize their responsibilites and react ethically and lawfully. It is unfortunate that these events do occur often. Which is why ethics and law play significant roles in regards to the care of patients and health care organizations.

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