Nurse Robaczynksi: A Mercy Killer

Do you think Ms. Robaczynski killed Mr. Gessner? Why or why not?

The sudden death of Mr. Gessner raises numerous questions regarding the issue of mercy killing. The case study raises an ethical dilemma that should be examined from different perspectives. To begin with, Ms. Robaczynksi decided to disconnect the respirator simply because the patient would die within the next few hours. It is quite clear that the nurse disconnected the respirator without any clear sign of death.

The fact that the patient had no blood pressure or pulse is not a clear indication that he was dead. Effective resuscitation might have supported the patient during the respiratory arrest. This scenario, therefore, shows clearly that Ms. Robaczynksi engaged in a practice known as mercy killing. This medical practice is usually common among comatose patients who show very little signs of recovery. That being the case, Ms. Robaczynksi’s decision to disconnect the respiratory machine led to the death of the patient. She also failed to resuscitate Mr. Gessner thus resulting in death. The most desirable argument, therefore, is that the nurse killed the patient.

Medical ethicists believe strongly that life-sustaining machines should be used until the patient’s last second. The machine can only be removed if the patient and his or her family members are involved in the final decision. As well, different stakeholders throughout the treatment process should be aware of the decision. Ms. Robaczynksi’s failure to resuscitate her patient is a clear indication that she committed an offense. Since Mr. Gessner did not refuse the use of the respiratory machine, it would be right to say that Ms. Robaczynksi killed her patient. Medical professionals should always act in an ethical manner and support the health needs of their patients until the last minute.

Would you view Ms. Robaczynski’s actions differently if Mr. Gessner had asked to be disconnected from his respirator? Why or why not?

The above discussion indicates clearly that Ms. Robaczynksi committed a medical offense by disconnecting the life-supporting machine. However, the case would have been totally different if Mr. Gessner had asked the nurse to disconnect the respirator. One of the fundamental aspects of healthcare practice is that patients have the right to receive quality care from their caregivers. As well, patients should be guided whenever making their healthcare decisions.

Such decisions should be in accordance with their respective health needs. This fact explains why patients can decide to refuse or accept a specific treatment method. If nurses and caregivers are unable to convince their clients, the best thing is to safeguard their rights. The case would have been different if Ms. Robaczynksi had been instructed by Mr. Gessner to remove the respirator. By so doing, Ms. Robaczynksi would not have engaged in a mercy killing. Instead, she would have served the interests and expectations of the patient. Whenever facing similar situations, healthcare workers should begin by informing their patients about the consequences of their decisions.

However, the final decision should be made by the targeted patient. The role of a caregiver is to provide timely and adequate information. The patient should also be allowed to make up his or her mind. This explanation shows clearly that Ms. Robaczynksi would not be facing any legal action if Mr. Gessner had instructed her to disconnect him from the life-sustaining machine. In conclusion, nurses should be aware of the legal issues affecting their practice. This knowledge will guide them to provide the most desirable care to the targeted patients. They should always respect the decisions and needs of their diverse clients.

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