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  • 090418Ethical Conundrums in Healthcare: A Careful Look at Some Difficult Decisions Faced by Providers, Patients and Families

Ethical Conundrums in Healthcare: A Careful Look at Some Difficult Decisions Faced by Providers, Patients and Families

The Department of Philosophy welcomes back Allison Lastinger, an outstanding Eberly College alumna (BA Biology and Philosophy, 2007) and Professor Emeritus Mark Wicclair, a former professor in the Department of Philosophy and currently a bioethicist at the University of Pittsburgh, to lead a discussion on two controversial issues in healthcare ethics.  

Wicclair will lead a discussion about a case of a person with advanced dementia with pneumonia. Previously the person had expressed that he would not want to be treated with antibiotics or other aggressive treatments if he became ill and had dementia. Now the patient is "pleasantly demented" and seems to still get some enjoyment out of life. Do you respect the patient's previously expressed wishes, or do you act in what you see is the person's best interests in the current situation?

Lastinger will lead a discussion about a case of a person with endocarditis (i.e. infection of a heart valve) related to injection drug use. The patient has already had one heart valve replacement surgery due to endocarditis from injection drug use and has since had a second episode due to continued drug use. The surgeons have determined that she is not a surgical candidate because she continued to use drugs even though she promised she would not. Is it ethically permissible to deny someone life-saving treatment on the basis of breaking a promise?

About the Speakers

Allison Lastinger

Allison Lastinger is an assistant professor of medicine at WVU. She received her undergraduate  d egrees in biology and philosophy and her MD degree from WVU. She completed both her internal medicine and pediatric residency and her fellowship in infectious diseases at WVU as well. She has received awards for patient care, and she is a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. She has a special interest in bioethics and serves on the Ethics Committee for WVU Medicine. She is the co-director for the second-year medical student Healthcare Ethics course. Lastinger has also won awards in research, including the 2017 Margaret J. Albrink Research Award. She is currently researching prosthetic joint infections as well as narrative medicine. She started the Orthopedic Infectious Disease Clinic at WVU where patients are seen by both Orthopedics and Infectious Diseases in a team-based approach. 

Mark Wicclair

Mark Wicclair is a philosopher and adjunct professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He teaches in the Master of Arts in bioethics program and the Clinical Ethics Training Program, in which he coordinates the fourth-year medical ethics elective. He is co-chair of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Committee for Oversight of Research Involving the Dead, and he served on UPMC’s Ethics Consultation Service for approximately 20 years. Wicclair is also a member of two hospital ethics committees. His primary research and teaching interests are in bioethics and applied ethics, and he has published extensively in these areas. During his tenure as professor of philosophy at WVU, he won five awards for outstanding research, teaching and public service.