Ethical Decision Making: Ethical Theories and Principles

Consider Alex, an x-ray technology student who has never performed procedures on emergency room patients. As part of his training Alex is rotating through the emergency room and has been asked to take x-rays of the head and neck of an alert yet seriously injured patient Mr. Hanson. The x-ray supervisor/instructor, Ms. Dubois, is present when Alex attempts the x-rays which require the patient to be manipulated into particular and potentially painful positions. Nothing is said to the patient other than " we are going to take some x-rays sir!"

After three unsuccessful attempts, the patient complains about the pain and the x-ray supervisor takes over and completes the procedures with success.

The focus of the dilemma is on whether the patient should have been told that Alex is a student. After reading the module materials and once you have an understanding of ethical dilemmas and principles answer the following two questions in an essay not to exceed 3 pages.


1. Identify the people/parties that have a stake or interest in this scenario, and explain how the interests may conflict.

2. Identify the ethical principles that may be applied in resolving the dilemma in the scenario. Be sure to discuss the prima facie duties and principles.

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...ilemma in the scenario. Be sure to discuss the prima facie duties and principles.

Prima facie duties and principles mean that a principle is binding in all situations unless it is in conflict with equal or stronger duties. For example, Beauchamp and Childress determine overriding duty by locating the greatest balance of right over wrong in any circumstances where there is a conflict between principles--although not absolute, they all more than rules of thumbs. The overarching good is the primary benevolence, which is the starting point of all ethical action (Johnson & Johnson, 2007,

Conflicting principles and values, for example, when autonomy applies, how important is non-malfeasance? This is the issue here. The desire of the supervisor and organization to have the student provides treatment to the patient versus the patient's right to autonomy. Autonomy is the patient's right to self-determination. In this case, the autonomy of the patient is one side of the conflict, which conflicted with the right for the hospital to provide care based on its mandate (e.g., student training).

The patient was not given the choice of having a student worker ...