You will write it up and present it to the class (5 minutes).
a. Identify an actual ethical case at a hospital which includes ethical considerations. The case
may involve nurses, doctors, medical technicians, CEOs etc. Try to choose an issue you’re
already interested in, or something based on a personal experience. It will make this project
more fun to do. The choice must NOT be something we already used for a class case study in
To find ideas, read, read, read, listen, listen, listen, or watch, watch, watch. Get ideas from
your textbooks, or from class discussions. You can find oodles of ethically-sensitive cases out
there, if you’re looking. I won’t give you possible choices here–as this is an advanced-level
class, it’s time for you to take the initiative!
b. Identify the ethical issue posed by the case, and collect background information on this
issue from library sources and interviews with experts. You’ll need to explain: (THREE
• how the issue has been handled by philosophers in the past;
• legal considerations;
• professional considerations;
• opinions of experts in the field. Basically, tell me everything the world knows about
the ethical issue raised by your sample case.
c. Complete the ethics worksheet, decide how you would, or would have, handled the case.
Length: Using the ethics worksheet as an outline, description of the case should be at least
one page. Research on the case should total at least three pages, and a good 4 sources, books
and articles included–not only web sites!
Your paper should be set up using the ethics worksheet questions, with each question
Objectives: To recognize an ethical issue based on an actual situation; to understand how
ethics philosophers and writers have considered your chosen issue; to critically analyze a
case, acknowleding ambiguities. At the end of your work, you’ll be the expert on this issue,
so I expect to read in your work a lot that I don’t know already.
Ethics Worksheet for Case Studies
(Based on worksheet by Thomas H. Bivins, University of Oregon.)
1. What is the ethical issue/problem, in one sentence?
2. What facts have the most bearing on the ethical decision you must render in this case?
Note: facts do not include ethical judgments at this point.
3. Are there any other external or internal factors to be considered? (Economic, political,
4. Who are the claimants (people making the claim) and in what way are you obligated to
each of them? (List all affected by your decision.) all the stakeholders
5. Which options could cause harm to any claimant?
6. Are there any rules, principles or codes (legal, professional, organizational, or other) that
automatically invalidate any of your options?
7. What principle(s) of the Code of Ethics does it relate and how/why?
8. Which ethical theories support or reject which options? Explain.
• Utilitarianism or others
9. Determine a course of action based on your analysis.
10. Defend your decision in writing?
ANA Code of Ethics Rubric for Case Study
Criteria Exceeds Expectations Full Points 100%
Meets Expectations 90%
Falls Short of
Expectations Deductions 70%
Identification of Ethical Issues
Identifies multiple ethical issues in the case, including family conflicts, cultural influences, a minor’s role in end of life decision making, conflicts within medical team, and a nurse’s accountability for truth telling.
Identifies some ethical issues, but misses more complex, deeper issues.
Fails to identify ethical issues or imagines issues not based on facts of the case.
Viewpoints Describes unique viewpoints of all those involved in the case: patient, father, mother, nurse and physician.
Considers viewpoints of some individuals involved in the case, but ignores others.
Does not acknowledge roles or viewpoints of any of those involved in the case.
Critical Thinking Skills Leading to Decision
Arrives at a balanced decision taking into account perspectives of all involved and the ethical theories/principles/codes that guide their actions. Proposed decision deals with the most important and urgent ethical issues and reflects cultural sensitivity.
Arrives at a decision based on limited consideration of roles and perspectives.
Decision proposed is acceptable to some, not to others, accounting for some cultural considerations.
Arrives at a decision based on personal opinion. Decision proposed is not feasible, acceptable,
or ethically justifiable.
Decision is considered in light of potential positive and negative consequences for the patient, the family, the physician and the nurse.
Recognizes anticipatory grieving and need for support through difficult death experience.
Some positive and negative consequences are proposed for chosen decision.
No positive or negative consequences are projected.