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Navigating Ethical Waters- Crafting Solutions for Healthcare Professionals Facing Dilemmas

Navigating Ethical Waters- Crafting Solutions for Healthcare Professionals Facing Dilemmas


Exploring the complexities of ethical decision-making within healthcare scenarios unveils the difficulties professionals face in balancing individual rights and familial well-being. The case study involving Dr. Leonard Harper and Clara Bennett delves into the ethical quandaries arising from prenatal genetic testing. Assessing this scenario through the lens of ethical decision-making models illuminates the challenges of navigating patient autonomy and family dynamics. Understanding the complex nature of these dilemmas is essential in crafting effective solutions that honor ethical principles while preserving trust and promoting holistic well-being within healthcare settings.

Case Study: Genetic Testing and Patient Autonomy

In the case study involving Dr. Leonard Harper and Mrs. Clara Bennett, a 38-year-old pregnant woman, the ethical dilemma revolves around disclosing prenatal genetic testing results to Clara’s husband, Lt. Jack Bennett, who is currently stationed overseas. Clara desires to undergo prenatal genetic testing due to her concerns about potential genetic disorders in her unborn child. Following the tests, it is revealed that there is a high likelihood that the child will have Down syndrome. In a private consultation, Clara requests Dr Harper to withhold this information from her husband, fearing it might add stress to his demanding and dangerous job.

Clara Bennett, Dr. Leonard Harper, and Lt. Jack Bennett are the key stakeholders involved in this ethical dilemma. Clara’s autonomy clashes with the principles of open communication within a family unit. Dr. Harper faces the ethical conflict of respecting Clara’s autonomy while considering the potential consequences of withholding crucial medical information from a spouse.

Peer-Reviewed Literature of Ethical Dilemmas in Prenatal Genetic Testing

Prenatal genetic testing poses complex ethical challenges, as evidenced by studies exploring patient autonomy, familial dynamics, and healthcare provider responsibilities. Ethical dilemmas arise from conflicting principles in a case involving Dr. Leonard Harper and Mrs. Clara Bennett.

Studies, such as those by Haidar and Iskander (2022), delve into patient autonomy in prenatal genetic testing. These works emphasize the importance of respecting patients’ choices regarding genetic information disclosure. Clara’s request for non-disclosure to her husband reflects her autonomy, aligning with these studies’ emphasis on individual decision-making rights.

Contrastingly, research by Walton et al. (2020) highlights the significance of open communication within families in genetic testing scenarios. They emphasize how familial dynamics and shared decision-making influence the well-being of all involved parties. Clara’s request for secrecy conflicts with the findings emphasizing family-centered decision-making.

Additionally, studies by Chadwick and Gallagher (2020) shed light on the healthcare provider’s ethical obligations. These works stress the importance of balancing patient autonomy with beneficence and non-maleficence. Dr Harper faces the challenge of respecting Clara’s autonomy while considering potential harm from non-disclosure to her husband.

These peer-reviewed articles provide a nuanced view of ethical considerations in prenatal genetic testing, supporting the analysis of the case study. They highlight the intricate balance between patient autonomy, family dynamics, and healthcare provider responsibilities, mirroring the complex ethical dilemma faced by Dr. Harper and offering insights into potential approaches for resolution.

Effectiveness of the Communication Approaches in Genetic Testing

Communication in the case study involving Dr. Leonard Harper and Clara Bennett is pivotal in handling ethical complexities surrounding prenatal genetic testing. Dr. Harper’s communication approaches with Clara and the potential implications highlight effective and ineffective instances.

Dr. Harper initially communicates empathetically by engaging Clara in discussions about genetic testing procedures and potential outcomes. However, the situation takes a turn when Clara requests non-disclosure of crucial information to her husband. Dr. Harper’s dilemma arises from his ethical responsibility to respect Clara’s wishes while considering the implications of withholding vital information from Lt. Jack Bennett.

Effectively, Dr. Harper maintains confidentiality and a supportive environment for Clara, respecting her autonomy and privacy. However, the need for more transparency with Lt. Jack contradicts principles of open communication within familial units, indicating an ineffective communication approach.

To navigate this, Dr. Harper should employ a balanced approach that respects Clara’s autonomy while advocating for open communication within the family. Avoiding complete non-disclosure to Lt. Jack would uphold ethical responsibilities without compromising Clara’s autonomy entirely.

Effective communication fosters trust and understanding within relationships (Walton et al., 2020), potentially strengthening the bond between Clara and Dr. Harper. Ineffective communication could strain relationships, leading to distrust and potentially negative implications for the Bennett family’s future decisions and well-being.

Utilizing effective communication approaches could promote a supportive environment while honoring ethical obligations. Conversely, ineffective communication might lead to fractured relationships, ethical dilemmas, and potential long-term consequences impacting familial dynamics and medical decision-making processes (Walton et al., 2020). Striking a balance between respecting autonomy and fostering open communication remains crucial in addressing ethical dilemmas in healthcare.

Effectiveness of the Approach and Consequences Used by the Professional in the Case Study

Dr. Leonard Harper’s approach in the case study concerning Clara Bennett’s request for non-disclosure of prenatal genetic testing results aligns with aspects of the Ethical Decision-Making Model. However, it also poses potential consequences from both effective and ineffective approaches.

In line with the ethical decision-making model, Dr. Harper demonstrates moral awareness by recognizing the ethical dilemma when Clara requests secrecy. His empathy and consideration for Clara’s distress showcase moral judgment, prioritizing her autonomy. However, the decision to comply with Clara’s request without further attempts to negotiate or facilitate communication with Lt. Jack may indicate a lapse in ethical behavior.

Effectively, Dr. Harper honors Clara’s autonomy, an essential aspect of ethical decision-making, potentially fostering trust between the patient and healthcare provider. However, the non-disclosure to Lt. Jack, though intended to alleviate stress, might strain the marital relationship and future decision-making processes. It could lead to diminished trust between spouses and pose challenges in managing the child’s potential health concerns in the future.

An alternative approach might involve a balanced dialogue that respects Clara’s autonomy while advocating for transparent communication within the family. Haidar and Iskander (2022) emphasize that this approach could uphold ethical principles while mitigating negative consequences on familial relationships and future medical decisions.

Effective approaches honoring autonomy while fostering communication could strengthen patient-provider trust and familial bonds (Haidar & Iskander, 2022). Conversely, non-effective approaches, primarily centered on complete non-disclosure, might create long-term strains, potentially affecting family dynamics and future healthcare interactions (Chadwick & Gallagher, 2020). Balancing autonomy with open communication remains pivotal in navigating ethical dilemmas, aiming to uphold ethical principles while mitigating potential negative impacts on all involved parties.

Balancing Autonomy and Familial Transparency: Ethical Solutions in Genetic Testing Dilemma

To address the ethical mystery presented in the case study involving Dr. Leonard Harper and Clara Bennett, a solution that upholds ethical principles while navigating conflicting interests could involve a balanced approach.

Respecting Clara’s autonomy remains paramount, aligning with the ethical principle of patient autonomy. Dr. Harper can honor Clara’s request for privacy regarding her health information but should concurrently emphasize the importance of family communication, rooted in the ethical principle of beneficence.

The proposed solution involves a structured dialogue with Clara, encouraging her to reconsider the significance of open communication within the family unit. Dr. Harper can advocate for support mechanisms, like counseling, to facilitate a discussion between Clara and Lt. Jack about the situation, emphasizing the importance of shared decision-making and mutual support.

This solution bases itself on ethical principles by respecting Clara’s autonomy while prioritizing the family’s welfare as a unit. It seeks to balance individual rights with familial well-being, promoting transparency and shared decision-making, which aligns with ethical principles of beneficence and non-maleficence (Clayton et al., 2020).

By encouraging open communication within the family, this solution fosters trust and understanding while mitigating potential long-term consequences of secrecy. Clayton et al. (2020) reveal that it recognizes the situation’s complexity and attempts to navigate it ethically, valuing both individual autonomy and the interconnectedness of familial relationships, thus fostering a more comprehensive and ethically sound resolution.


Navigating ethical dilemmas in healthcare requires a delicate balance between respecting individual autonomy and promoting transparent communication within families. The case study involving genetic testing highlighted the complexities healthcare professionals like Dr. Leonard Harper face. Ethical decision-making models are invaluable guides, emphasizing moral awareness, judgment, and ethical behavior. Striking this balance demands nuanced approaches rooted in ethical principles. Effective communication and solutions honing autonomy while fostering openness within families are pivotal. As healthcare evolves, ethical considerations remain crucial in preserving trust, ensuring patient welfare, and navigating complex moral landscapes.


Chadwick, R., & Gallagher, A. (2020). Ethics and nursing practice: a case study approach. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Clayton, E. W., Evans, B. J., Hazel, J. W., & Rothstein, M. A. (2019). The law of genetic privacy: applications, implications, and limitations. Journal of Law and the Biosciences6(1), 1–36.

Haidar, H., & Iskander, R. (2022). Non-invasive prenatal testing for fetal whole genome sequencing: an interpretive, critical review of the ethical, legal, social, and policy implications. Canadian Journal of Bioethics5(1), 1–15.

Walton, V., Hogden, A., Long, J. C., Johnson, J., & Greenfield, D. (2020). Clinicians’ perceptions of rounding processes and effectiveness of clinical communication. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice26(3), 801–811.


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Navigating Ethical Waters- Crafting Solutions for Healthcare Professionals Facing Dilemmas

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