A number of cases of extreme medical complications been reported or contested, and on the basis of the value of one's life, what good does it do to prolong the misery of people who fight pain and illness? Is it justifiable that people who are terminally ill should be kept on life-support when the best thing would be to let them decide for themselves? If one were to answer the question on the ethical dilemma on keeping terminally ill patients or patients with no quality of life alive, one doesn't have to look any further than the case of Theresa Schiavo. Terri Schiavo had a life-threatening injury when she was hospitalized in 1990. Her brain suffered extensive damage when her heart stopped beating. She was in a vegetative state right through her admission and treatment in hospital, and in 1998, her husband Michael Schiavo requested a Florida court to save her further physical and mental agony by ordering the removal of her feeding tube. While her parents opposed this, the court ruled that her feeding tube be removed, but this judgment was challenged by her parents in another court that ruled in their favor. In 2004, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Terri's right to privacy was being violated, and overruling Governor Bush's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, her feeding tube was removed and she died on March 31, 2005; less than two weeks after the feeding tube had been removed (Waddell, 2005).
People fail to understand the pain and despair that terminally-ill patients go through. A visit to a hospital shows a number of patients in a vegetative state fighting in silence for their freedom from pain. These patients are better off dead. Consider the following; patients like Terri can't swallow food, have no control over their urine and faeces, and need continuous supply of oxygen to keep them alive. They scream of pain in silence, yet, these terminally-ill patients are kept on artificial life-saving devices. Public health policy is the product of blending information from scientific evidence with compromise as a result of political and constitutional concerns (Jennings, Kahn, Mastroianni & Parker, 2003). If terminally-ill patients are kept on life-support, who benefits from it? Is it the hospitals that continue to bleed the patients and their carers of their money that goes into their already bludgeoning medical bills; is it to harass the already devastated family of the victim; or is it to torture the body or mind of the victim? Little do they care or understand that the burden of care is another one's sacrifice and so, if the carers have to spend their time running around the hospital and insurance agencies, where do they have the time to look after themselves? Also, do they know the kind of pain and misery the patients undergo? There is no justification or ethics in keeping terminally ill patients or patients with no quality of life alive.
Jennings, B., Kahn, J., Mastroianni, A., & Parker, L. (2003). Ethics and Public Health:
Model Curriculum. aspph.org. Retrieved 22 June 2015, from http://www.aspph.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/EthicsCurriculum.pdf
Waddell, L. (2005). Parents of Woman in Florida Lose Bid to Keep in Feeding Tube.
Nytimes.com. Retrieved 23 June 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/22/us/parents-of-woman-in-florida-lose-bid-to-keep-in-feeding-tube.html
One of the most famous and controversial cases was that of Terri Schiavo. On February 25th in 1990, 26 year old, Terri Schiavo collapsed on her kitchen floor. Paramedics arrived and performed CPR. She was transported to the nearby hospital where she was intubated and put on a ventilator. Unfortunately she suffered severe brain damage when her heart stopped, cutting on the supply of oxygen to the brain. Within a few weeks, she was removed from the ventilator. The part of the brain that controls most motor functions had been destroyed, so although she was able to breathe on her own and go through periods of wakefulness and sleep, she could not eat was considered to be in a persistent vegetative state.