Develop, in detail,  a situation in which a health care worker might be confronted with ethical problems related to patients and prescription drug use OR patients in a state of poverty. You should not be using any text you used in a discussion board or assignment for this class or any previous class. Cite the textbook and incorporate outside sources, including citations.

Title: Ethical Dilemmas in Healthcare: Prescribing Medications to Impoverished Patients

The ethical landscape of healthcare is complex and constantly evolving, presenting healthcare workers with frequent ethical dilemmas. One prominent ethical issue arises when healthcare workers encounter patients struggling with poverty who also require prescription medications. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals find themselves grappling with conflicting ethical principles, such as beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. This paper aims to explore a plausible scenario where a healthcare worker faces ethical challenges pertaining to patient care and prescription drug use for individuals in a state of poverty. The situation will be illustrated by citing the textbook, “Ethics in Healthcare: Approaches to Understanding and Assessing Ethical Issues,” and incorporating relevant outside sources.

In this scenario, let us consider Mary, a nurse practitioner working in a community health center located in a low-income neighborhood. The clinic provides primary healthcare services to individuals who are uninsured or living in poverty. Mary encounters various patients with chronic health conditions who require prescription medications to manage their illnesses effectively, but who lack the financial means to access and afford these essential medications.

Recently, Mary began treating Mr. Johnson, a middle-aged man diagnosed with hypertension and diabetes. Due to his limited income, Mr. Johnson struggles to afford the prescribed medications required to control his conditions effectively. While Mary is aware of less expensive generic alternatives, the available options either have undesirable side effects or are less effective compared to the brand-name drugs that Mr. Johnson needs.

Ethical analysis:

Beneficence and Non-maleficence:
According to the principles of beneficence, healthcare professionals are morally obligated to act in the best interests of their patients and promote their well-being. In this situation, Mary must consider what actions will serve Mr. Johnson’s best interests, balancing the potential benefits and harms associated with his prescribed medications (Purtilo & Doherty, 2018). Non-maleficence requires healthcare providers to refrain from causing harm to patients. Mary must weigh the potential harm of not adequately treating Mr. Johnson’s chronic conditions against the likely harms associated with the available cheaper medications for his financial situation.

The ethical principle of justice asserts that healthcare resources should be distributed fairly and equitably. Healthcare professionals must consider whether access to certain medications is contingent on a patient’s ability to pay or if they should advocate for social justice and strive to provide equal access to healthcare for all. Mary finds herself at a crossroads, contemplating how to best fulfill the principle of justice while considering the financial constraints faced by Mr. Johnson.

The ethical framework:
To address this ethical dilemma, Mary could utilize the ethical framework proposed by Purtilo and Doherty (2018). The framework consists of six steps: assessment, identification, exploration, deliberation, decision-making, and action.

1. Assessment: Mary assesses and comprehensively analyzes the ethical issue at hand, specifically the conflict between Mr. Johnson’s need for expensive medications and his limited financial resources, which impede his access to proper treatment.

2. Identification: Mary identifies the moral principles relevant to the situation, including beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.

3. Exploration: Mary explores potential ethical solutions to address the issue, such as advocating for affordable healthcare, working collaboratively with pharmaceutical companies to negotiate lower prices, or seeking financial assistance for Mr. Johnson.

4. Deliberation: Mary engages in thoughtful reflection and discussion with colleagues, considering alternative courses of action and assessing their ethical implications and feasibility.

5. Decision-making: Mary makes an informed decision based on her ethical analysis, weighing the potential benefits, harms, and justice considerations. She determines the action that aligns most closely with ethical principles.

6. Action: Mary implements her decision by discussing the situation with Mr. Johnson, informing him of the available options, and jointly deciding on the course of action that best accommodates his medical needs and financial constraints.

Ethical dilemmas frequently emerge in the healthcare field, particularly when healthcare workers are confronted with patients in poverty who require prescription medications. By employing a systematic ethical framework, healthcare professionals can navigate these challenges more effectively. Ethical principles such as beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice play a significant role in guiding healthcare workers towards making morally sound decisions and providing equitable care for their patients. In the scenario highlighted, Mary, the nurse practitioner, demonstrated her commitment to ethical practice by thoroughly assessing the situation, exploring potential solutions, and ultimately taking action to ensure the well-being of her patient, Mr. Johnson.

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