Essay Sample: Ethical Dilemma Scenario

“In the health care and social work sectors, most of the professionals are faced with many ethical dilemmas. However, a substantial amount of these ethical issues are catered for through guidelines outlined in the constitution of the professional bodies or general industry/international ethical codes of conduct. Nevertheless, there are those ethical situations that call for individual judgment. These ethical situations are commonly referred to as ethical dilemma situations. In this paper, such a situation is going to be analyzed using a case study that involves a patient who is in a seizure and requires a medical next of kin. As the social worker mandated to make a decision there are various ethical dilemmas that one will face.In addition, this discussion goes further to analyze the best alternatives that the social worker in this case has and their implications.


It is a fact that the patient (Freddy) is not lucid enough to make any coherent decision for himself and as such, he needs a next of kin to make these decisions for him. In addition, it is clear that Freddy does not want anybody to know about his positive HIV status. The other tricky part is that his closest next of kin is his ex-girlfriend (Mina) but they have been separated for ten years as his family resides in South America. Consequently, if Mina is made the patient’s next of kin, she has to be informed about the true position of Freddy’s health including his HIV status.

Ethical Dilemma

Freddy, was very clear about the privacy of his health information disclosed to anybody. However, a decision has to be made on the treatment to be undertaken, that is, palliative care against surgery and radiation treatment against chemo. As such, what is the best alternative to follow? Is it to reveal the HIV status of Freddy to Mina and allow her to assume the decision making role, or it to reveal partial information to her and let her make these decisions on his behalf? (Allen K. , 2012)

Ethical Principles

Basically, a social worker is guided by six main ethical principles; the primary objective of helping those in need in addition to addressing the social problems, respecting the inherent dignity and worth of patients, challenging social injustices, behaving in a trustworthy manner and recognizing the vales of human relationships and practicing within their professional scope while upholding their professional expertise (Hugman & Smith, 2012). As such, these principles greatly differ with the second alternative since as a social worker. Given the surrounding circumstances, it is not prudent to withhold any information from Mina is she accepts the role of the patient’s kin (Dolgoff, Lowenberg, & Harrington, 2009).

Legal Rule

In this case scenario the legal rule will be that under these surrounding circumstance, Freddy’s wishes are null and void because he cannot make any sound decision about the future of his health. As such a next of kin has to make these decisions on his behalf. Therefore, they are obligated to have all the facts so that they can give the best judgment in favor of the patient (Allen & Friedman, 2010)…”


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