rule that governs our behavior on philosophies and principle decisions

Ethics and Decision Making in the Case Study

Ethics is the guideline that guides our behavior based on philosophies and principle judgements about what is wrong or right. Ethics apply to any group of people, and ideas differ from one community to the next. Mike and Joanne, according to "Case Study: Healing and Autonomy," follow the Christian Biblical Narrative and Visions, which puts them in a struggle to make the proper ethical and moral decision regarding their ailing son, James. James' parents are devout Christians with a strong Religious upbringing. They believe in God's healing power, which was demonstrated by the recovery of a close friend following a stroke. As Mike and Joanne practice religious autonomy, it is hard for them to decide whether to leave the life of their son in the physician’s hands or God’s through faith. Sometimes it is very critical for Christians to balance both ethics rather than trusting only in God’s optimistic impacts in personal healing. The analysis of this paper is based on ethical issues in connection with Christian principles and values and their influence in decision making, and the dilemma that exists between the physician advice and religious autonomy in sickness.

Pressing issues Under Christianity

The above case contains many ethical subjects, which require the submission of both the Christianity and the physical science in decision making. From the class case study, one of the ethical issues that can be deduced is whether believing in healings from God over the proven and tested scientific healing is ethical. Mike and his wife, Joanne, are God fearing individuals who use the Bible and preachers as their guide to daily decisions. Upon their son’s illness, they are forced to visit the hospital for assistance. However, they later on decided to consider letting God work His miracle is the best way in healing their son. According to Hall (2014), faith healing is mostly exercised by Christians, just like Mike and Joanne. In most circumstances, they reject the physicians’ treatment and prefer prayers. The aforementioned is evident in the case where these parents decide to defer James’ dialysis, which occasioned in the unfavorable effect on his well-being. The conclusion is unethical because its outcome endangers their son’s life, who at this point still rely on his parents’ decisions (Hall, 2014).

According to Meilaender (2011), injustice or being right for an action is dependent on the nature of the consequences. The sanctions and suggestions provided by the physician after the consultations with parents of James, should have worked out to better benefit for the sick child. In this case, the most beneficial decision is doctor’s suggestion for immediate treatment. But the parents dispute the advice for conducting a dialysis and decide to believe in the healing power of God, which according to them is the best choice to make. The principle of self-rule succeeds over the principles followed by doctors in this case. At this point, the nurse cannot make any decision on the case because the principle of autonomy is appraised and allows James’ parents to be prime decision makers. There exists a tension between parents’ decision and the physician’s recommendations over the Christian values and visions. According to the physician, the child will be temporarily better after the temporal dialysis but he fails to convince the mind of the parents since they refuse the dialysis procedures on their son. James’ family, on the other hand, believes in miracles from God because they had witnessed a healing of a stroked man before.

Lastly, another ethical issue arising from the case study is that concerns the body organ itself. At times, the Christians faith is powerful than any physical powers. Their approach to medical defies logic sometimes. According to them, a kidney transplant is considered a controversial issue because they believe that the human body is the temple of God and nobody should tamper with it. James has this only option of a kidney transplant to survive, which relied on the parents again to make a decision on whether doctors should carry on with the procedure. However, according to Christianity, this course of action would be unethical. Mike is torn into a dilemma on whether to ignore his God and save the child by allowing his twin and only gene-match brother to donate the kidney or still wait for God’s miracles. In the physician’s view, James should undergo a kidney transplant from his brother before the end of the year to make sure he lives. The decision lies in the hands of the father, who is still indecisive on whether a young boy should lose his kidney for another. His final decision at this point is that God is testing his faith, which I presume that he will prefer Samuel to remain with his kidneys and still wait for his prayers to be answered.

Decision Making By Mike against Professional Responsibility of the Physician to the Patient

The decision on the children’s welfare is usually the responsibility of the parents until they become adults. In most places, the law allows parents to have overall autonomy for the children, and they are bonded to making decisions for their children. Hall (2014). From the case study, Mike seems to be making decisions based on other factors rather than considering the deterioration of James’ health. For instance, this is emphasized more at the end where he appears to have ignored the recommendation for a kidney transplant from Samuel and placed the sickness in the name of God’s test of faith. The nurse, on the other hand, is responsible for dispatching proper treatment and care to the patient. This issue conflicts with Mike’s perceptions.

Professionals, especially in healthcare, must resolve conflicts of interest for the sake of the patient’s safety assurance and ensure their maintenance of integrity in the profession. According to the law, Mike’s decisions might be considered to be negligence, and therefore, the physicians are not obligated to follow them completely. The right to believe should not at any point extend to threatening and endangering another one’s life, leave alone the child. Hall (2014). Hence, the most crucial factor is for the physicians to ensure that they work with Mike as a team and follow a proper line of procedure to ensure James' life is saved.

The Christian Narratives, Treatment Refusal, Patient Autonomy, and Organ Donation

The refusal of treatment is enough, especially when it is hopeless or brings a burden into the life of others. The parents perceive the treatment cost as high, preceding to see the real benefits and the issue of this being a test of his faith in God makes it a burden. Many questions arise from the case within the four bioethics principles, rendering it a clinical dilemma. Meilander (2013). The knowledge of understanding the expenses and the impact associated with a kidney transplant and any additional treatment defines a rational decision in any situation. The work of the physician is to analyze the harm and positive outcomes of conducting the operation for both the donor and the recipient and advise accordingly.

The parents should not be forced to go along with the transplant, although their son is really in need of a kidney. The principle of autonomy guides nurses and practitioners. The father of the twins finds himself in a dilemma of making the right decision, which is his overall autonomy, and the practitioner can only persuade him through proven decisions but not decide for him. According to Christians, God views them as He wants them to be and not every one of them is gifted. Meilander (2013). Thus, organ transplant is an unethical issue and should not be practiced in the eyes of the Lord.

Christian’s Thoughts on Sickness and Health

Suffering and illness are not only considered as a punishment for sin from God but also as a sign of God’s work manifestations. According to Christians, their faith is tested through many things, and sickness is among them. In the case, it is seen that Mike perceives the illness of James as the test of faith. Mike is obligated, according to Christian’s principles, to trust in the Lord and never give up for the healing. They believe that healing comes from God through believing and having faith. That is exactly what James’ family should have done just like the man in the church.


The ethical issues arising from the “Case Study: Healing and Autonomy,” are complex and need many contributions from both parties; parents and the physician. The conflicting issues for the two parties are that Mike believes in God’s healing, even though he has some doubts about his faith, while the physician knows that the physical treatment way is the only option for James. The two parties should try to understand one another and come up with the best decision to safeguard and appraise the well-being of James.

In this case, my perspective is that the physician’s recommendation should be included in the faith of Christians in ensuring James’ well-being. Here, everybody has proven that they believe in healing, which has worked before. Mike’s belief seems not guaranteed as it failed in the first place. The two should, therefore, work mutually even if Christianity and science are always conflicting to treat James of his condition.


Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2001). Principles of biomedical ethics. Oxford University Press, USA.

Hall, H. (2014). Faith Healing: Religious Freedom vs. Child protection. Science and Religion. Retrieved on 9 September 2017, from

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