Ms Christine Jones Case Study
Ms Christine Jones is a 34 year old female bought into emergency by ambulance following a Motor Vehicle Accident in which her partner was killed. She arrived in ED unconscious, with full spinal precautions in place. Her mother’s details were found in the contacts list on her mobile phone. Her mother is listed her as next of kin (NOK ), so telephone consent was obtained for all necessary medical intervention to be performed as required prior to the mother arriving at ED. Christine’s mother lived a hour’s drive away.
On Christine’s admission to ED primary and secondary surveys were performed. A suspected left punctured lung was confirmed and a chest tube inserted; intubation and ventilation are commenced. Minor cuts and grazes were noted on her arms, legs and abdomen area as well as severe swelling of her right ankle and right wrist. A comminuted fracture of her L) femur was diagnosed.
Cervical, thoracic and lumbar x-rays were performed but revealed no indication of spinal fractures and spinal precautions were ceased. Full blood count, urine and sputum samples were sent with a positive pregnancy test result revealed post the x-rays being performed. The bHCG (Beta-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) was indicative of Christine being approximately 10-11 weeks pregnant.
Due to the positive pregnancy test and the patient being unconscious and ventilated it is decided to manage the femur fracture conservatively until informed consent can be obtained from the patient for surgery.
It is now 2 days post the accident and Christine is currently in ICU having been weaned off the ventilator overnight and has regained consciousness with a GCS of 15. The chest tube is still in-situ and Christine is on IV antibiotics, Oxygen, CVC line in situ, IDC. Further x-rays of her right wrist and ankle are planned for the afternoon.
Before you enter the room this morning Christine’s mother takes you aside “I heard the nurses talking yesterday and they said Christine is pregnant- is that true? Can I ask you a favour? – I’ve been thinking; please don’t tell Christine about the positive pregnancy test and can you tell the doctor’s the same so Christine will consent to surgery of her fractured femur and further x-rays. She needs to think of herself first then the pregnancy. She won’t make a rational decision if she knows she is pregnant.” The monitor starts alarming within the room and you excuse yourself from the conversation.
The medical team is in Christine’s room when you and Christine’s mother enter the room and are informing Christine of the positive pregnancy test. They go on to give Christine two options for her fractured femur: The first option is surgery for ORIF (open reduction and internal fixation) of the femur and the second option is conservative treatment due to the risks associated with surgery whilst pregnant and having a punctured lung. The risks of conservative treatment are also outlined – longer recovery time, no weight bearing for 6 weeks, the alignment of the healing of the femur may not be exactly perfect therefore leading to further issues in the future (pain etc).
Christine asks the medical team where her partner is and says that she would like to discuss with him and if he knows about the pregnancy test. Christine’s mother step forward and tells Christine that her partner was killed in the car crash at which point Christine breaks down. Her mother goes on to tell her she must choose whatever option is best for her so she can heal completely and to think of herself before anything else. Christine looks at the doctors and says that she won’t do anything to harm or risk the baby and that she isn’t going to have surgery.
- Identify the two most relevant and significant Acts or Laws relevant to the case study. Ensure you focus on the current time frame and situation and that identified legislation is current and valid in Western Australia.
(HINT: DO NOT refer to the Mental Health Act, it is not relevant for the case provided)
- Choose one of the Acts or Laws you have identified above and explain why it applies to Ms Jones’ current care and situation. Ensure the Act/Law itself is used to discuss and analyse why it is relevant and significant.
- a) Identify one ethical issue that you, as a student registered nurse, faces when caring for Ms Jones during the morning shift.
- Outline and discuss one strategy that you may use to deal with this ethically challenging situation. You can choose either a type of communication strategy or a conflict resolution technique.