ethics healthcare 1651417 2

The Terri Schiavo Case


The Terri Schiavo case drew strong opinions on both ends of the ethical spectrum with regard to a patient’s right to sign an advanced directive and, in the absence of an advanced directive, who could make lifesaving medical decisions.

Using the Internet, research and read about this case. You can search for this case by using the following keywords, “The Terri Schiavo Case.”


Based on your analysis of the case, answer the following questions:

  • What are the major ethical issues involved in the case?
  • Do you agree or disagree with the outcome of the case? Why or why not?
  • Who should be eligible to legally make healthcare decisions to save or end life in the absence of an advanced directive? Why or why not?
  • What should be the considerations when making a decision to discontinue life support?
  • How can the codes of ethics for physicians and nurses affect this case?

After answering the above questions, read the following case on ethical issues.

On October 27, 1997, Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act, which allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. Thus, Oregon became the first state to legalize physician assisted suicide. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act requires the Oregon Health Authority to collect information about the patients and physicians who participate in the act and publish an annual statistical report. Answer the following questions in regard to the above case:

  • What is the major ethical issue in this law?
  • Using an ethical theory, argue for or against the Death with Dignity Act.
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