I began my morning at regular time and arrived at work at 8:30 am. I worked on my ethics paper in the morning and then around 11 am drove to St. Mary's Hospital to meet David Belde, the ethicist for Bon Secours to learn more about what his job entails.
Soon after arriving at St. Mary's David informed me that he had an ethics consult in a few minutes concerning a patient with Locked-In syndrome. Not familiar with what this condition is, David filled me in on exactly what this means. A patient with Locked-In syndrome (LIS) is essentially fully alert with all mental capabilities but completely paralyzed and unable to communicate with others in any way except with eye movements. The patient that he was about to meet with, was in this current state as a result of complications of a spinal chord surgery. I observed at David met with both the patient's family, the treating neurologist, various nurses in the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU), and myself. It appeared that the big question was the patient wanted in her current state, since LIS' prognosis is grim and the chance of recovery even small muscle functions is rare. After meeting with the various health care staff for almost two hours, no conclusion had been reached. Since the patient was alert, it would ultimately be her decision to decide whether she wanted to continue her life. She would need to be asked questions in a way so that through blinking her eyes (one blink being yes and two being no) she could convey her wishes.
Observing the LIS consult was very interesting but knowing the reality that the outcome of this situation would determine whether a person would live or die was difficult. I was very glad to get to observe this case and see what David does as an ethicist. I pray that what is best for the patient ultimately becomes the outcome for this patient. As one can see there are many ethical issues present in this particular case.
After the consult, David and I went to a Vietnamese Restaurant for lunch. The food was similar to Chinese restaurants, but a little different. David informed me that Vietnamese food is similar to Chinese food but the main difference between the two is that Vietnamese food is less greasy with less oil used in cooking. I was pleased with this, because I try for the most part to be a healthy eater. I enjoyed the lunch and discussed with David my plans for the future. He informed me on how he decided on becoming an ethicist and a great deal about himself. After lunch, I headed back to the office and did some reading for the rest of the day.