A Case Study on the Ethical Dilemma Surrounding the Hospital Reimbursement After the Treatment of Illegal Immigrants
Ethics refers to the standard of wrong or right. Medical ethics forms one of the essential branches of medicine, because it is the guiding principle to a competent medical practitioner. It is a moral philosophy that entails conflicts in duties and their possible outcome. Often, medical practitioners encounter dilemmas in the course of dispensing their obligations, and this requires them to make the best choice that will yield more benefits and less harm. However, making such a decision has never been easy, and therefore one is required to consider outcomes and the consequences of the decision.
This case study is a classic ethical dilemma of hospital reimbursementafter treating illegal immigrants who require dialysis treatment. Federal regulations statethat when a patient comes into an emergency room for emergency medical care, he or she should be treated and attended. Doctors cannot question the ability of the patient to pay, or his or her citizenship status.
However, contrary to the above, it is often clear to medical practitioners that limited treatment can be given undocumented immigrants, due to the difficulty of being reimbursed for the cost of medicine. This creates a state of conflict as to whether doctors shouldtreat such undocumented aliens or not (Nordtug, 2015). The decision has outcomes as well as consequences; hence professional healthcare providers face the problem of choosing what is right and wrong.
The stakeholders, in this study, are the medical practitioners and the federal government. The governmenthas a provision forthe treatment of patients who requireemergency attention. Conversely, medical practitioners are limited to attending to undocumented immigrants. The relevant theories for this studyinclude Deontology and Unitarianism (Francis, 2017). Deontology theory is concerned with duty and rights, irrespective of the consequences, and this implies that a doctor is mandated to attend to a patient without considering the implications of the action. Additionally, anypatient has the right to be treated and attended.
On the other hand, Unitarianism has it that a medical practitioner must do what is moral and has a benefit to the largest possible number of people. It is, therefore, morallycorrect for amedical practitioner not to provide healthcare to illegal immigrants, and instead use these medicines for the greater population, who have medical insurance, which means the hospital will be reimbursed.
This dilemma has been created by rules and regulations from both the government and the medical sector. In the first instance, the federal government declares that patients brought to emergency rooms must be treated and must not be turned away. Relevant rules and regulations from the medical sector have restricted the provision of healthcare to undocumented aliens. Therefore, these rules and regulations are contradictory, and they pose a dilemma to professional healthcare providers.
There are some possible outcomes and alternatives in the dilemma case. The deaths of immigrants who are refused treatment because of their illegal status could result in legal action against medical practitioners who violate federalrules and regulations. One alternative is a joint negotiation between the federal government and the public health sector to harmonize rules and regulations governing provision of health care to immigrants. Another alternative could be to treat illegal immigrantpatients before handing them to the federal government authorities.
Though it is wrong to go against rules and regulations set by authorities, patients cannot be allowed to succumb to deadly conditions (Monrouxe & Rees, 2017). Therefore, it is advisable to weigh both the benefits and consequences for treating such patients. Saving human life is more importantthan following rules and regulations. Therefore any patient who requires emergency medical treatment should receive it. Afterwards, when the patient recovers, he or she should be detained as a means of appeasing federal obligations. The patient should also be handed over to government authorities to answer why he or she is in in the country illegally.
The decision to treat illegal immigrant patients could result in action taken against the medical practitioners for violating medical provisions. However, the federal government can defend the practitioners for saving human life. Treating sick illegal immigrants could lead to a huge burden on public healthcare, since no one caters for undocumented aliens who seek treatment. This couldcause further financial crises to the public healthcare sector.
Ethical frameworks for these options are the principles of justice andnonmaleficence (Francis, 2017). The principle of justice entails the equal and fair provision of healthcare without discrimination.Patients should be treated regardless of their race and citizenship status. The principle of nonmaleficence obligates health care providers to avoid harm where possible, and hence medical practitioners should prevent sickly patients from more harm whether they are legal citizens or not.
The ethical frameworks of justice and nonmaleficence promote universal human rights, upholding the constitution and international conventions on human rights. Human rights apply all over the world, and more often, the rights are universal. Therefore denying medical attention to a patient forillegal citizenship is a violation of human rights (Hopia, Lottes & Kanne, 2016). It is a rational act to save human life, and no one has ever been imprisoned for protecting human life. Medical practitioners have the right to attend patients who require emergency treatment regardless of their origin and citizenship status.
In conclusion, medical dilemmas exist and they are inevitable. Therefore, doctors, nurses and any other medical practitioners are required to make the best choice given the circumstances and to avoid negative consequences of the decision, such as the loss of human life. Rules and regulations should, however, be taken into account ahead of the need to make life-or-death decisions. A medical practitioner is required to consultothers when approaching medical dilemmas to ensure the right ethics adhere.
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