Biomedical Ethics in the Christian Narrative

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The Most Unrelenting Matters in the Case under the Christian Narrative and Vision

Religious beliefs and practices have always been a common source of hope and strength for patients seeking medical services. However, due to the fact that spirituality is rather individualistic and self-determined, there has always been a conflict between healthcare and religion. This is mainly because some religious beliefs tend to influence medical decisions, which ends up in lowering the quality of health service provision. The situation regarding children is even worse as their right to autonomy is limited with their fate being entirely reliant on their parents’ decisions. The case study on “Healing and Autonomy” will be used to provide a detailed analysis of the complex relationship between religion and health care, including its adverse effects on a child’s well-being. The analysis will be crucial towards exhibiting how various Christian principles and moral values can be applied to reach a viable conclusion when faced with conflicting views between religious beliefs and physician recommendations.

According to the case study, James is suffering from acute glomerulonephritis, a condition that stems from complications of a strep throat infection. Also, James has high blood pressure and significant fluid buildup, thereby making his situation critical enough to warrant immediate dialysis. Under the Christian narrative and vision, while determining James’ treatment plan, the most pressing issues presented in the case are the matters of faith, belief in the supernatural powers, and punishment from God. The constituent of faith is witnessed through James’ parents, Mike and Joanne, who, after being presented with their son’s diagnosis, decided to relinquish the treatment and place their faith in God to heal their child. Their actions were facilitated by their pastor’s sermon, which influenced their decision-making to see it appropriate to put their faith in God rather than allowing their son to undergo dialysis. The concern for faith is also observed after Mike is presented with the option of using Samuel as James’ donor for the kidney. He tends to view the whole situation as the ultimate test of his faith in God and a chance for him to prove his trust in the Creator.

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Consequently, the belief in supernatural powers is demonstrated through the situation with Mike’s and Joanne’s close friend, who regained mobility from a severe stroke in a healing service. Their trust in the power of healing swayed their decision into believing that taking their son to a healing service was the most probable course of action rather than allowing him to undergo a series of dialysis. Additionally, the issue of punishment from God is observed through Mike’s thoughts as he wonders whether God was punishing him or James. The thoughts were mainly ascribed from the deterioration of James’ condition to the point of needing a kidney transplant despite attending the healing service.

How the Physician Ought to Act as Irrational Decisions That are Harmful to James are Made

According to Traphagan (2013), doctors are trained to have respect for autonomy which limits them from offering a medication without a patient’s approval or consent. As such, patients are empowered by the law to participate in health care matters concerning their health and lives. In regards to children, parents have the broad authority to make informed medical decisions on their behalf; however, the physician should have prevented Mike from making the illogical choices that have aggravate James’ condition and could lead to the boy’s demise. This refers to the principle of nonmaleficence, which requires healthcare professional to desist from harming the patients (Truscott & Crook, 2013). Thus, despite the Bible teaching that the Christians should trust God and bring their prayers for healing miracles (Mark 11:22-25 New International Version), the physicians should protect patients from medical decisions that can bring them harm. Besides, in the Beatitudes Jesus has developed the golden rule of handling others the way we would like them to handle us. Thus, the physician should have protected James as he would also like to be protected if the situations were reversed.

According to the principle of active beneficence, physicians are obliged to act for the benefit of others or to improve other people’s situation (Devettere, 2016). From the case, James should be treated as the moral agent, and all decisions made regarding his health condition should be aimed at improving his situation. Therefore, the physician should not allow Mike to continue making the irrational decisions, but, instead, convince him to make the right choices. This is however difficult as God commands men to obey Him rather than the fellow men in the Book of Acts (5:29 New International Version). Furthermore, based on the principle of justice, the physician should not allow Mike to continue making the irrational decisions that harm James (Lysaught et al., 2012). The decisions are unjust to the patient as they only intend to increase his suffering. For instance, when Mike decided to forego dialysis, James’ condition deteriorated to a point needing a kidney transplant, which was not only unfair to James but also unjust to Samuel.

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The Analysis of the Case Under the Christian Narrative and Discussion

From discussions on the topic of Christian narrative, one may analyze the case study as a form of child abuse and neglect as presented by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In the case, Mike foregoes James’ treatment based on religious beliefs by placing faith in God and believing in the power of prayer. As such, the parents denied James access to suitable treatment, which might have improved his condition. Their refusal to treatment has caused serious harm to James by increasing his torment to the point of making his situation critical – an act that can be highly outlined as child abuse and neglect.

To make the matter worse, Mike was again hesitant to allowing Samuel donate his kidney to save his brother’s life. He is observed having doubts on the subject, viewing it as the ultimate test of his faith in God. This is clearly a case of child abuse and neglect, based on the fact that James’ life is at risk, and his parents aren’t properly evaluating his need for urgent medical care. Consequently, parents are presented with the mandate of making informed medical decisions on behalf of their children (Traphagan, 2013). However, their decisions should be primarily focused towards improving the situation of their child. From the case, Mike’s decision is observed to abuse his son’s liberty by causing direct harm to James in the name of religion.

How Christians Should Evaluate Sickness and Health While Making Decisions

The conflict between religion and provision of health care services tend to cause a lot of unnecessary fatalities and increased suffering among patients. Thus, Christians ought to change the way they think about sickness and health to enhance their overall well-being. They should adopt an applied approach while analyzing the most probable course of action to undertake through evaluation of various ethical principles. Therefore, Mike should integrate the ethical principles of non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice among others while making a decision relating to James’ treatment. In accordance with Truscott and Crook (2013) and under the nonmaleficence principle, Mike should ensure that his choice of action avoids the risk of inflicting harm on James; thus, he should allow James to undergo the kidney transplant.

Likewise, following the principle of beneficence, Mike’s actions and decisions should primarily be for the benefit of James as a moral agent (Devettere, 2016). He should use the utility approach to weigh the advantages against disadvantages of his choices as far as James’ well-being is concerned. In this respect, Mike should allow Samuel to donate his kidney to his brother as the act would foster James’ well-being. It is the responsibility of both a parent and a moral agent to act for the benefit of others. According to Lysaught et al. (2012), Mike should employ the constraints of justice while evaluating a choice of action. Furthermore, the following Christian principles and values should also be used in making decisions: (1) hope, which embraces the persuasion that God is always present. Thus, Mike should allow James to undergo treatment as while the doctors execute their duties, God is present and guides their actions. (2) The principle of love, which states that we should love others as we love ourselves; hence Mike’s decisions should also be guided by his love to God and to his son. (3) The principle of grace is should also be integrated in evaluation of an appropriate decision. It commands service rather than self-centeredness; thus, Mike should allow James to undergo treatment out of his service.

To conclude, the complex relationship between religion and health has been outlined in the case study. In spite of the fact that religion is important in most people’s lives, it has been observed to have a negative impact on their health decisions. This is based on the fact that it can influence negative decisions, which are irrational and deter the quality of healthcare service. This is presented through Mike’s judgments in the process of delivering health care decisions for his son James, who is suffering from a kidney failure. Physicians have also been observed to stand by and do nothing while irrational decisions that cause harm to the patient are made. Nonetheless, the essay has integrated the principle of nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice to outline how health professionals ought to act when faced with such a situation. It has also outlined the process that should be applied in the enhancement of quality decision that promotes the quality of healthcare service provision.

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