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Health Care Ethics-Case Study Analysis

Health Care Ethics-Case Study Analysis

Relevant Facts

From a personal view, it was unjust to ignore Cowart’s request to die. To begin with, Cowart has sustained a bigger percentage of burns that would finally make him disabled. Besides, he had lost his father, who would be there for him to support him. However, requesting a gun from the farmer would be considered a request to commit suicide, and by nature, no human would stand watching a fellow human die through suicide. Therefore, it was right for the farmer to deny him the gun to shoot himself. Similarly, when an ambulance was called, Cowart’s request can be regarded as a request for passive euthanasia. According to Boss (2020), passive euthanasia refers to the process of withholding or withdrawing an intervention that would sustain life. This is widely accepted, especially for critically ill patients with terminal illnesses during their last moments. There are, however, various laws that determine whether or not an individual can be granted euthanasia as requested. For instance, in the US, a patient must be mentally stable to make a decision; one must make at least two oral and one written requests to die, and the request should be made during the last six weeks of an individual’s life.

Based on the above-described criteria, Cowart would not qualify to have his request granted. However, across the medical practice, the healthcare practitioners are obliged to observe the patient’s autonomy, which was neglected. Cowart requested to be left to die, but the healthcare professionals went ahead to offer medical interventions such as amputation and skin grafts. The most worrying thing is whether or not the patient consented to the procedures. Since he wanted to die, it is unlikely he consented to the procedures. This is evident by the number of times he attempted suicide after recovery. Even though Cowart recovered, his quality of life markedly reduced, given that he lost his eyesight and fingers. According to Boss (2020), disability is not well welcomed in society, and the disabled pass through discrimination. However, this does not qualify among the conditions for euthanasia.

Clarification of Relevant Concepts

The key concepts in the case study include the concept of euthanasia and the concept of the principle of autonomy. Euthanasia refers to the act of medical-assisted dying or merciful killing. There are several types of euthanasia, including direct, indirect, active, and passive euthanasia (Pesut et al., 2020). However much euthanasia is acceptable in some countries, active euthanasia is still prohibited. In addition, healthcare workers are obliged by their work ethics to observe and respect the patient’s autonomy. Autonomy refers to the patient’s right to make decisions that influence their treatment process (Boss, 2020). For instance, in the case scenario, the healthcare workers would be expected to respect Cowart’s decision to die rather than be treated.

Moral Standard

The most appropriate moral standard for this case study would be the Rights Ethics Theory. Philosophers of this theory argue that patients’ rights should be protected and respected. According to Boss (2019), naturally, there is human dignity that grants freedom to make life decisions. For instance, in the case study, it would be considered unethical to ignore the patient’s request to be left untreated to die. Even worse, it was just to continue doing the surgical procedures requiring the patient’s consent when Cowart refused any treatment. Nonetheless, the healthcare professional’s act is still considered morally acceptable since the patient recovered from the procedures.


In conclusion, Cowart would be granted his request to be left to die. From the case study, it is apparent that from the treatment offered to Cowart, he did not have his normal life back as he lost his fingers and eyesight; hence, he became physically challenged. Concisely, Cowart requested passive euthanasia by denying treatment since he wanted to die. In the case study, the most appropriate moral standard to apply would be the Rights Ethics Theory, which emphasizes respecting and protecting patients’ rights regarding their treatment process. Based on the theory, Cowart would be left untreated as per his wish and left to die. It was, therefore, unjust to ignore his plea and continue offering him medical interventions when he refused.


Boss, J. (2019). Ethics for Life. (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Boss, J. (2020). Analyzing Moral Issues (7th ed.). NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

Pesut, B., Greig, M., Thorne, S., Storch, J., Burgess, M., Tishelman, C., & Janke, R. (2020). Nursing and euthanasia: A narrative review of the nursing ethics literature. Nursing Ethics27(1), 152-167.


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Read the following case study and respond to the question below.

26-year-old jet pilot and sometimes rodeo performer Donald Cowart was standing in a field with his father when there was a violent explosion caused by leaking gas. The explosion killed his father and sent Donald, whose body was engulfed in flames, running for half a mile. When a farmer found him, Cowart, who was in excruciating pain from burns covering more than 65 percent of his body, asked for a gun so he could kill himself. The farmer refused his request and called an ambulance. Cowart asked the paramedics not to drive him to the hospital but to leave him in the field to die. They instead administered life-saving measures and took him to the hospital.

Health Care Ethics-Case Study Analysis

Health Care Ethics-Case Study Analysis

Cowart lost both his eyes and all his fingers and underwent several operations for skin grafts and amputations. After he was released from the hospital, Cowart attempted suicide several times. Eventually, he completed a law degree. Cowart frequently speaks at medical conferences on issues relating to euthanasia. He still insists that the hospital staff who treated him for his burns violated his right to self-determination by keeping him alive (1).

Question: Should Cowart have been allowed to die when he requested it?

1. Judith Boss. 2020. Analyzing Moral Issues. p. 144. McGraw-Hill Higher Education 7th edition textbook is available at

Use the Case Study Assignment Template to do the following:

Describe the relevant facts of the case.
Clarify concepts relevant to the case.
Apply a moral standard to the case.
Articulate a conclusion to the stated question.
Include at least two references, such as the textbook and other readings, to support your arguments.
This course requires the use of Strayer Writing Standards. For assistance and information, please refer to the Strayer Writing Standards link in the left-hand menu of your course. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.

The specific course learning outcome associated with this assignment is:

Practice the application of ethics to everyday life.


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