The decision reached regarding Terri Schiavo’s case was ethically and morally sound. It is because Terri was in an irreversible vegetative state (Quill, 2005). As per medical ethics, the decision that favors the interest of the patient involved should always be taken. A patient like Terri in a vegetative state has no autonomy, and it is not possible to know whether she is suffering emotionally. One cannot even tell whether they would accept prolonged life support or not. That is why the family members and close relatives should come forth to solve the dilemma. They are the ones who can make the decision for the patient basing their evidence on the wishes and will of the patient involved. Mr. Schiavo put it clear that Terri’s wish was to be put on a life-supporting machine (Quill, 2005). Therefore, if should could wake up for some time she would not endorse the artificial hydration and nutrition to prolong her life. The family members presented their wishes not conforming to Terri’s as her husband presented. Therefore, in this case, the wishes of the patients should be considered before anything else (Statutes, 2014). And in the vegetative state, their autonomy is the closest relative and family. There was no ethical or moral justification of prolonging her life given her vegetative state was irreversible as confirmed by the team of medical professionals.
Provision or principle number 1 of the ANA Code of Ethics should be used by any nurse to evaluate a similar condition for guidance. According to this provision, the nurse should practice with compassion and respect for the dignity, worth, and unique attributes of every person (Fowler, 2015). This helps the nurse to individualize care. It also guides them to advocate for the patient and family in assessing the responsible and appropriate use of life-sustaining care about the wishes of the patient and family (Fowler, 2015). By referring to this principle, the nurse is guided to stick to the wishes of the patients, if patients lack the autonomy the nurse should then refer to the wishes of the family that is clearly in consistency with the patient’s wishes if they had the autonomy (Fowler, 2015).
Terri Schiavo’s case would not be decided differently today. It is because, with medical evidence of the irreversible vegetative state, the wishes of the patient projected through the family members come as the priority. The wishes should be clear and with no contradiction. Mr. Schiavo presented that Terri would not wish her life to be prolonged by a machine (Quill, 2005). This is all the basis of the decision, and if it were today, the same decision taken in 2005 would be taken today.
Those allowed by the Florida law to speak for incapacitated patients include; the judicially appointed guardian of the patients or the guardian of the person having a developmental disability, the patient’s spouse, an adult child/children of the patient, a parent of the patient, an adult sibling(s) of the patient, an adult relative (s), a close friend of the patient, and a clinical social worker licensed pursuant to chapter 491 or a social worker who is a graduate of a court-approved guardianship program (Statutes, 2014).