Ethics is a system of moral principles that apply values and judgment. The medical profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical standards developed primarily for the benefit of patients. Members of the medical profession must recognize responsibility’ to patients first and foremost and shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights. Members of the medical profession shall uphold the standards of professionalism. They shall be professional and honest and respect the rights of patients and their colleagues.
While we all have an obligation to respect the law, those in the medical profession shall also recognize a responsibility to seek changes in those requirements which are contrary to the best interests of the patient. An action may be legal but unethical or illegal but ethical. (AMA 2014) I took an interest in the case of Neon Roberts, an eight-year-old boy whose mother lost the battle in a legal bid to stop him from receiving surgery as well as radiotherapy for a brain tumor. Sally, Neon’s mother was not happy with the treatment being proposed, which could cause Neon long term damage or even premature death.
She instead preferred alternative treatment. Mr.. Roberts, Neon’s father whom did not appear in court and Neon’s Physicians were in favor for radiotherapy. The judge was advised by Neon’s Physicians that the treatment had a success rate of “at least” 80 per cent, sometimes up to 86 percent. Mrs.. Roberts was refused additional time to find alternate medical experts on top of the four she has already produced. A High Court judge overruled Mrs.. Robertson’s objections and ruled Neon should undergo surgery and radiotherapy for the tumor against his mothers wishes. Live he judge thought he was focusing on the best interest of the child balancing the best treatment for the chi lid against the downsides of that treatment (utilitarian approach) which surgeons suggested would be death within three months without the treatment. After reviewing the case, it seems as if the Judge was advised predominantly of radiation therapy and didn’t further review alternative treatment which was suggested by Neon’s mother. Mrs.. Roberts simply wanted the opportunity to exercise her right to choose safer and more effective options and I think those options should have been rather discussed with the Judge.