Tough Decisions presents many of the complex medical-ethical issues likely to confront practitioners in critical situations. Through fictional but true-to-life cases, vividly described in clinical terms, the authors force the reader to choose among different courses of action and to confront a range of possible consequences. A two-year-old has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Who should be allowed to make decisions about the child's surgery and subsequent therapy, and on what basis? A family history of Huntington's disease emerges when a fiancee seeks genetic counseling. Who should be informed? An elderly patient suffers a cardiac arrest. Should "do-not-resuscitate" orders always be followed? How should legal liability affect medical decisions?
Other ethical issues considered include surgical complications, patient autonomy, rights of the retarded, informed consent, euthanasia, and the fair allocation of finite resources. Each case presented conveys the drama and pressure of weighing alternatives, and the realistic consequences of the choices made. The authors show that ethical decision-making is not limited to "matters of life and death", and that it is not the decision but the ethical process by which it is made that gives the decision moral integrity. With realistic detail, Tough Decisions brings to life and makes the student share in the many complexities of ethical decision-making when the health and lives of patients are at stake.show more