Read Chapter 6: Informed Consent (pp. 101-117)
Analyze the scenario below. Approach the case as a trained professional who must abide by your Professional Code of Ethics as it relates to informed consent.
How would you handle this situation?
Ethical Dilemma Involving Third Parties:
Your client is experiencing a crisis that is affecting her anxiety disorder. During the counseling session, she informs you about her mother who may be in danger.
Her mother’s doctor treated her for COVID-19 using an experimental drug that had not yet been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Her mother trusts this doctor since she has been seeing him for years and he knows her medical history, which includes high blood pressure. Your client’s mother signed an Informed Consent to begin a course of treatment by the doctor without discussing it with her daughter (your client). This experimental drug interacted with her mother’s medication causing her heart to beat so rapidly, that she had to be rushed to the emergency room. She is now on life support! The ER nurse informs your client that the medication found in her mother’s blood work caused her to go into cardiac arrest and she wants to know who prescribed the medication.
Your client is emotionally distressed and tells you she is not sure what she should discuss with the nurse on behalf of her mother especially since her mother did not confide in her trying the new medication. In addition, her mother signed an informed consent.
However, because you feel this doctor was grossly negligent with the patient and could possibly harm others ethically, you have an obligation (duty to protect) your client. You ask your client for permission to discuss this case with your supervisor. You also seek the advice of your organization’s professional code of ethics, without divulging your client or her mother’s personal identifiable information.
a) Are you ethically responsible to intervene on your client’s behalf?
b) The helper-client’s confidential agreement has changed significantly since there are other parties involved; should you request an updated signed informed consent from your
client before taking further action?