Ethical Decision Making

In the case study for this week, I chose Otto’s family’s viewpoint. With that viewpoint, I paired it by using beneficence, the “do good” ethical principle. Beneficence is a normative statement of a moral obligation to act for the others’ benefit by preventing or removing possible harms (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2013). Since Otto has been recently diagnosed with HIV encephalopathy in which he is manifesting unstable behavior to others and some confusion, he is not in the right situation to know the truth about his diagnosis. In the past, he was aggravated and became uncontrollably angry when the doctors told him his medical problem. At this point, I am more concern of Otto’s safety and his emotional stability. By not telling him the truth facilitates an ethical responsibility of his family to act for his benefit of being in a harmless situation. Using beneficence promotes important and legitimate interest by preventing or removing possible harms to Otto, his wife, and their kids.

On the other hand, the opposing view, which is the provider’s viewpoint, promotes an ethical principle of autonomy. Autonomy is the acknowledgment of Otto’s right to make decisions and choices, to hold views, and to take actions based on personal values and beliefs. Because he was diagnosed with HIV encephalopathy, a medical problem that affected his brain that disturbed his ability to think right, autonomy should not be utilized at this point. He does not show evidence of complete sound mind because of his medical diagnosis.

The resource that I may use at this point is to give Otto’s wife some education of the disease process about HIV encephalopathy. I will tell her about the disease, its pathophysiology, and the epidemiology. That way, she would appreciate the education regarding treatments, will be knowledgeable of the proper way to treat Otto and be empathetic of her husband’s condition. In addition, the other focus in the situation is for Otto to not feel distressed of his current situation. Educating Otto’s wife of the disease may facilitate more considerate outlook of Otto’s family to him and his medical problem. Finally, I will continue to provide medical care to Otto as a whole person. I will address what medical needs he has and answer all his questions while being a professional and ethical medical provider to him.


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (2013). The principle of beneficence in applied ethics. Retrieved from