Do you think Ms. Robaczynski killed Mr. Gessner? Why or why not?
When asked about the reasons behind her actions, Ms. Robaczynski said she did not know why she acted that way. Such an answer suggests that the nurse understood that she did something wrong as she could not provide any sensible reasons for her behavior. I think that Ms. Robaczynski killed her patient, Mr. Gessner. In some cases, the disconnection from certain devices can be justified by the withdrawal of treatment or foregoing treatment that were the most appropriate solutions.
For example, if a patient asks to stop their suffering, and there are no chances they can survive, it is possible to be merciful. If the patient is unconscious, the matter becomes more difficult to address. However, some patients have certain documents where the circumstances associated with the end of life are pointed out. Family members can also have the right to decide whether disconnection is possible or even necessary. Finally, the staff of the healthcare facility can also make such decisions.
Ms. Robaczynski made such a decision, but her action is murder. I believe such crucial decisions cannot be made by one person. It is necessary to make sure that no other options are available. Physicians, nursing practitioners, as well as other healthcare professionals, should discuss possible disconnection. However, Ms. Robaczynski did not consult anyone. Her patient was unconscious, and he did not leave any notes concerning disconnection. His family did not leave any information on the matter. Hence, the nurse simply killed the patient as her decisions were not based on thorough analysis or the patient’s will.
Would you view Ms. Robaczynski’s actions differently if Mr. Gessner had asked to be disconnected from his respirator? Why or why not?
Ms. Robaczynski could be viewed differently if Mr. Gessner had asked her or other healthcare professionals to be disconnected. That action could be regarded as an act of mercy although it could be still a very difficult ethical dilemma to solve. On the one hand, nurses should focus on patients’ health and the best health outcomes for them. On the other hand, it is essential to address patients’ interests, autonomy, and dignity. Ms. Robaczynski had to decide whether she was capable of disconnecting a person, which would mean his death. This act would still be a murder, but it could also be seen as assisted suicide if Mr. Gessner had asked to do so.
I would still call this action a murder in general terms, but it would not be a crime. Taking someone’s life is killing, in my opinion. However, there are some circumstances when it is possible. First, the patients had to ask about it. Furthermore, the nurse had to discuss this issue with the patient. They had to discuss possible interventions and chances for healing. The nurse had to encourage the patient to think about the value of life and his possible future.
The involvement of the patient’s family could be beneficial. The nurse had to discuss the issue with physicians and other healthcare professionals. It was crucial to estimate the chances for successful treatment or relief for the patient. Clearly, in many cases, there is no time at all to discuss all these things. Decisions are often made within hours, which shows the importance of end-of-life decision-making.
On balance, Ms. Robaczynski’s actions could be seen differently if the patient asked her to disconnect the device. Such acts are still killing, but they are merciful actions, not a crime. Each healthcare professional may have to address many ethical decisions that can be made based on various discussions.