Assessment 03 – Applying Ethical Principles

For this assessment, you will develop a solution to a specific ethical dilemma faced by a health
care professional. Before you complete the instructions detailed in the courseroom, first select
one of the ethical dilemmas below to be the focus of your assessment.

After you have selected one of the ethical dilemmas from below, return to the detailed
instructions in the courseroom to complete your assessment.

Case Study: Confidentiality and Mental Health

Dr. Laura Simmons, a licensed clinical psychologist, has been treating Mr. Alex Turner, a 35-
year-old software engineer, for symptoms of severe depression and anxiety over the past six
months. Their sessions have been characterized by trust and open communication, with Alex
often sharing his deepest fears and concerns.

During a particularly intense session, Alex reveals to Dr. Simmons that he has been having
recurring thoughts of harming a colleague due to a longstanding professional rivalry and recent
personal conflicts. He describes detailed plans and expresses a genuine intent to act on these

Dr. Simmons is immediately faced with an ethical dilemma. She values the principle of
confidentiality, which is foundational to the therapeutic relationship. Alex has trusted her with his
innermost thoughts, and she knows that breaking this trust could potentially harm their
therapeutic alliance. However, she is also bound by the principles of beneficence and non-
maleficence. Beneficence compels her to act in the best interest of her patient and those around
him, while non-maleficence emphasizes the importance of “doing no harm.”

Case Study: Resource Allocation and Justice

St. Helena Hospital, located in a densely populated urban area, is facing an unprecedented
challenge. A sudden outbreak of a rare respiratory virus has overwhelmed the hospital’s
Intensive Care Unit (ICU). With only five ventilators available and ten critically ill patients in
need, the healthcare team is faced with a heart-wrenching decision.

Dr. Caroline Mitchell, the Chief Medical Officer, convenes an emergency meeting with her core
team: Dr. James Rodriguez, a pulmonologist; Nurse Hannah Green, the ICU head nurse; and
Dr. Lisa Wong, an ethicist. They must decide how to allocate their limited ventilators.

Among the ten patients are:

• Mr. Alberto Garcia, a 50-year-old teacher with three children, ages 16, 18, and 22.


• Mrs. Emily Foster, an 80-year-old retired nurse who has been a pillar in her community.
• Mr. David Kim, a 40-year-old researcher working on groundbreaking medical

• Ms. Sarah O’Brien, a 20-year-old single mother and the sole caregiver to her two

disabled children, ages 2 and 5.

The team grapples with the principle of justice, aiming to ensure that all patients are treated
fairly and equitably. They consider a first-come-first-serve approach but recognize its inherent
flaws. They also discuss allocating based on age, societal contribution, or potential future
contributions, but each criterion presents its own set of ethical challenges.

Beneficence, the principle of doing good, pushes the team to consider which patients might
benefit most from the ventilator and have the highest chances of recovery. Conversely, non-
maleficence, or “do no harm,” raises questions about the potential suffering some patients might
endure even with the aid of a ventilator.

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