Ms. Brown comes into the emergency department to secure treatment for a head injury, plus minor bruises and abrasions she reportedly received during an assault that happened about 20 hours ago. Ms. Brown is 34 years old and accompanied by her boyfriend, Roy. She indicates they were sleeping in a protected entrance to an elevator in the city parking garage when two young men began beating and kicking them. The two men took Ms. Brown’s purse, a sack of food she and Roy had accumulated, and Roy’s wallet which contained $5.00.
Ms. Brown indicates she has been homeless for more than a year. She occasionally stays in city shelters but spends most of her time roaming the city and walking to procure meals at the various programs that feed the poor. She is tall and thin, with a variety of skin lesions. She came to the hospital due to dizziness that prevented her from walking to the church, where she could eat. She and Roy occasionally work odd jobs but use the bulk of their income to support Roy’s drug habit. She is trying to get Roy to quit using.
The nurse practitioner (NP) cleans Ms. Brown’s scalp and tapes the traumatic lesion. A contusion is suspected, and the NP suggests Ms. Brown rests for a few days and goes to the neurological clinic if the dizziness worsens. Ms. Brown points out that she has no place to rest and cannot get to the clinic without public transportation. The NP realizes this but indicates it is beyond her control. Because the contusion is not definitively diagnosed, the NP must discharge Ms. Brown with follow-up orders to seek help if things get worse.
Using the Resolution Guidelines with the mnemonic ETHICAL, consider the following questions:
- E—Examine what other data are needed to make informed choices.
- T—Think about who should be involved in the decision-making process and who should make the ultimate decision. Should Roy be involved? What agencies are available in your community to assist Ms. Brown?
- H—Humanize Reflect on all the possible options with resulting consequences and humanize them by constructing a decision tree.
- I—Incorporate the ethical principles (autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, veracity, confidentiality, fidelity, and justice) when appropriate. Are there any legal statutes that apply? What standards of care should be incorporated
- C—Choose an option.
- A—Act on your ethical choice.
- L—Look back and evaluate your option to see if you need to make any other choices. This also will be a guide for the next time a similar situation arises.
Peer Responses/Participation [Due Sunday]
- Make sure to respond to at least two of your fellow classmates postings as well and challenge each other to go beyond just the surface.
- Share your thoughts on how you support their ideas and explain why.
- Present new references that support your opinions.