human services work often involves direct client interaction, there are times
when the values of the worker differ from those of their clients. In these
circumstances, ethical dilemmas tend to arise. Review the case examples and
current ethical conflicts presented in Chapter 5 of your textbook. Choose (1)
case study and (1) ethical conflict to discuss, and present the dilemmas
involved in each case. As a human services professional, how would you handle
these situations? How would you balance your values as a professional with a
Andrea was a 9 year old
girl who had been diagnosed as having cystic fibrosis at the age of 13 months.
Since then she had been hospitalized twelve times, eight times during the last
When admitted for the
last time, she was already receiving an experimental antibiotic, which was
being administered in an attempt to control a resistant pneumonia superimposed
on severely damaged lungs, a result of her underlying disease. She was at that
time a severely ill, emaciated child with moderately labored breathing. She
seemed to have no interest in her environment and refused to communicate with
anyone but her mother.
The parents indicated
that in the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest, they did not want their
child to be resuscitated, and the appropriate medical order was written. The
child was not involved in these conversations or subsequent decision making.
As this child’s condition
continued to decline, the parents asked the doctor how much longer she would
live and how she would die. At one point the father said: “Watching your own
child die is worse than dying yourself.” This comment led to a discussion of
active euthanasia utilizing intravenous potassium chloride or a similar drug.
The physicians pointed out that no matter how hopeless a situation or how much
suffering the patient and family were enduring, the law prohibits the active
taking of a patient’s life. They refused to consider this option. The following
day, Andrea’s heart began to fail. Her condition became progressively worse,
and she died approximately 48 hours later. During those last two days, her
parents were in great despair because of her steadily deteriorating condition.
They felt helpless and impotent to alleviate their daughter’s distress. Medical
treatment was continued to the end, and no measures were taken to hasten Andrea’s
Approximately two months
after her death, the mother asked if she would still have given permission for
active euthanasia if she had been offered that option. She replied, “Yes.”
Mandell, B.R. & Schram, B. (2012). An introduction to human services: Policy and practice
(8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN: 9780205838851