Cultural Difference in Health Care
The following examples of ethical dilemmas that health care professionals face are the direct result of cultural differences within our society. They are just a few examples of cultural and ideological clashes that often occur in health care.
1. A couple from South Asia has requested an ultrasound. They want to know whether or not their unborn baby/fetus is a boy or a girl. If it is a girl, they wish to have an abortion. Their culture believes that males have more value than females.
2. A dying man from a Hutterite colony wishes to be home to die a slow death. His culture believes this is an important point in a person’s life where the ‘fortunate one’ can talk to the colony members, set things right, and pass on his knowledge before dying.
3. A patient consults a Chinese herbalist and is given powerful herbal remedies that dangerously mix with her doctor-prescribed pharmaceuticals. The patient refuses to stop the herbal remedies because of her belief that the herbs have the power to cure.
1. Now that you have read through the examples, think about what you would do in each of these scenarios.
2. As you are composing your response, consider the following questions:
a. Do you always have to ethically agree with the person in care?
b. What will you do if you do not agree?
c. Is it ok to stand up for your own beliefs in any of these situations?