Case Study On Legal And Ethical Issues in Diabetes


In the assignment, a case study of 37-year old, Edward is thoroughly analysed. Edward is suffering from Type 1 Diabetes from the age of 14. Recently he started suffering from viral fever. However, he did not take his viral fever seriously. Later, he became unconscious in a bathroom of a hotel. When he was taken to hospital, paramedics assessed Edward as a patient of diabetic coma. In the assignment, several legal and ethical issues related to Edward's treatment are discussed. In the assignment, the role of legal authority related to diabetic coma, element related to validity of consents, legal consequences, and other options is thoroughly analysed. Some essential principles, conflicts related to ethical issues and application of Kerridge model are also evaluated.

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Legal Issues

1. Understanding the Legal Authority to Provide Treatment for Diabetic Coma

In this case study, it is shown Edward is suffering from type 1 diabetics. When he began suffering from viral fever, he ignored it. Later, the health issue became serious and people found him unconscious in a hotel. At first, it is shown he was unwilling to receive treatment for his viral fever. Therefore it is important to understand the role of legal authority which can provide treatment for diabetic coma without service. A responsible health professional should act in a service user’s best interest when it comes to medical treatment. In Australia, the G&A Act states the person or health professional needs to be responsible for considering a few matter determining the best interests (Lon’Tejuana et al. 2017). Health professional needs to know the desire of wish of service user who is suffering from a severe disease. If that person does not give consent for medical treatment, health care professional needs to talk to family members or relatives of that service user.

Health professional needs to know if any other alternative treatment is available for that service user. Health service provider should also understand whether any kind of risk or danger is associated with this health treatment. Health professional must know if the treatment is done only because of maintaining and promoting well-being and good condition of service users. However, some support users do not want to receive health service and it becomes very difficult for health professionals to provide them health care support. Therefore, The G&A Act gives legal authority to health support providers to do medical treatment if service user does not give consent in case of emergency (Çakërri et al. 2014). When treatment is essential for support user, health service providers must perform treatment for their support users. A health professional can do medical treatment to save the life of health service user. Health professional can also use health service in order to prevent any kind of severe damage to support user’s condition of health. Health care professionals need to give treatment to support users to prevent suffering of continuous distress or pain. Therefore, in case of Edward, paramedics can provide treatment for diabetic coma without his consent.

2. Discussing Factors Related to Validity of Consents and Legal Consequences if Paramedics Provide Treatment Without Patient’s Consent

There are some elements or factors which should be present for the validity of consent. Edward’s family members should be aware of severity of his condition and allow health professionals to perform medical treatment. Health service provider must get consent of performing health treatment from Edward’s family members (Zimmet et al. 2014). Health professional can provide medical treatment to Edward to save his life and prevent him from any kind damage of health even if Edward does not give consent.

In some healthcare organisations, some service users do not want to receive medical treatment from health professionals. It is very important for health service providers to get their consent before performing treatment. Every adult must have a right to decide what is done with their bodies. Their consent must be both verbal and written. Therefore, service provider has a right to reject medical treatment. They need to understand severity of their disease agree to terms and conditions regarding the procedure of treatment. If health professionals take decisions of providing medical treatment without their consent, they may face legal consequences. As the Queensland Criminal Code s.245, if a person moves, strikes or touches another person without that person’s consent, this act is considered an assault (Himsworth, 2013).

3. Evaluating Rationale Supporting Legal Obligation for Obtaining Content

When it comes to medical treatment, generally no treatment can be performed without the service user's consent. Particularly a health professional needs to take permission of service user if that person is an adult. At the time of providing treatment to service users, health professionals must explain alternative options and risks associated with the treatment. A service user can refuse or reject medical treatment from health professionals. As par Marion’s case, Australia’s High Court developed the principle and stated a competent person can select what occurs regarding medical treatment. In case of Edward, it is important to perform the treatment to improve his condition of health (Kodali, 2015). However, it is not possible for Edward to give permission for treatment as he does not have decision-making capacity. When people found him unconscious in a hotel, they admitted him to a hospital. Now he is a suffering from diabetic coma. Therefore it is very important for the health professional to interact with his mother and wife and receive their consent for treatment. Health service provider needs to make them understand the importance of giving treatment to Edward. Health service provider needs to make his family members understand the severity of the disease and his condition. It is very important for them to realise the fact health service provider will not be able to save Edward’s life if medical treatment is not given.

4. Analyzing Available Options for Health Professionals for Getting Consent

Edward is a 37-year-old man who is suffering from diabetics. He always managed to maintain stability of blood glucose level. Recently he began suffering from viral fever, but he did not care about it. He did not want to receive medical treatment for viral fever. However, his viral fever became worse. Then one day he became unconscious and was admitted to a healthcare organisation. Paramedics assessed him as a person who suffering from of diabetic coma. Edward’s condition is serious and he does not have a capacity of providing consent regarding medical treatment from health support providers. Therefore, it is important for health professionals to talk to Edward’s family members and receive their consent. The G&A Act allows the guardian of service users to give consent to medical treatment (Abdulazeez, 2015). It states service user’s parents or domestic partner can make decision regarding medical treatment of service user if that service user does not give consent. Health support user’s nearest relative can also provide consent for medical treatment as well.

5. Understanding Legal Options for Health Professionals if Decision-Makers Disagree to Give Consent

In the healthcare organisation, paramedics assessed Edward with diabetic coma. When he arrived the health care organisation, Edward was ventilated and intubated. At first, he stayed in emergency department of that health care organisation and he was transferred to ICU. As he cannot provide consent to receiving medical treatment from health professionals, his family members have a right to give consent to treatment. However, sometimes family members show disinterest in receiving medical treatment as well. Especially people from lower class background do not always want to take medical treatment because they cannot afford those facilities. At first, health professionals need to talk to Edward’s family members and make them understand the seriousness of Edward’s health condition. If they disagree to give consent to medical treatment, healthcare professionals can take the decision to perform medical treatment without service user of family member’s consent. Part 4A of the G&A Act gives health professionals right to perform medical treatment if that’s necessary without consent of service users (Dunning et al. 2013).

6. Discussing Factors Regarding the Withdrawal of life-sustaining measures of Edward

In a healthcare organisation, Edward is assessed with serious health condition of diabetic coma. At first health professionals tried hard to prevent damage to the condition of his health and save his life. However, Edward was not responding to the treatment anymore and there was no sign of improvement. Therefore, the team of health care and Edward’s wife believed there was no reason for continuing the treatment. They decided medical treatment should not be provided to him anymore because it would not affect him (Spencer, Cooper & Milton, 2014). Edward does not have awareness regarding his surroundings and there is no possibility of Edward’s recovery. However, Edward’s mother thinks health service providers should not stop giving Edward medical treatment. She believes Edward should be provided with every opportunity to survive and he needed to stay dependent on the health care organisation. Edward’s mother can do everything which is needed to continue his treatment and make him alive.

Ethical Issues

1. Discussing The Identification And Application Of Two Principles Related To The Case Study

In ‘Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights’, it is written that UNESCO developed some principles related to ethics. One major principle is that any medical and diagnostic medical intervention should be performed to service users if service user gives informed and free consent. The person needs to be involved in the process to a great extent and take decision regarding the medical treatment. However, they should provide medical treatment only if service users give consent. Service users should be given adequate information in a form and it must include modalities for consent withdrawal (Hovorka et al. 2014). Consent can be withdrawn by service user at any point of time and for any kind of reason. Scientific research must be done in accordance with informed and free consent of the service user. When a service user does not want to give consent, authorisation of medical practice and research must be done by health professionals with reference to the person’s best interest. In case of Edward, the service user does not have the capacity to take decision as he is in diabetic coma. On the other hand, it is very important for health professionals to take his consent and provide him medical treatment. It is the only way to save his life and prevent him from any kind of damage to health.

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2. Understanding Conflicts Between The Principles Regarding Various Values Of Every Stakeholder

In case of Edward, conflicts two different principles are noticed. Edward does not have a health condition so that they can give content of medical treatment. He cannot take decision because he is in diabetic coma. On the other hand, health professionals want to provide medical treatment to Edward as it is the only way to save his life and prevent any kind of damage related to his condition of health (Krasuska et al. 2016). However, it is unethical and unlawful to give medical treatment to a person without that person’s consent. There are certain reasons related to medical treatment which allows health professionals to give medical treatment. If the service user’s parents and domestic partners give consent to medical treatment, health professionals can do their job. If it is extremely important in order to save service user’s life, health professionals can save perform treatment.

3. Application Of Kerridge Et Al. (2013) Model To Resolve Ethical Issues

Kerridge’s model gives seven steps of systematic approach regarding medical treatment. These seven helps identify some ethical issues and analyse values of those issues. These steps include ethical dilemma, identification of facts, requirement of information, ethical principles, conflicts of ethics and taking ethical decision (Pouwer, Nefs, & Nouwen, 2013). When health professionals provide health service, they often face various types of ethical dilemma. They also need to identify certain facts related to medical treatment. Some important information is also needed to perform their duties. Health principles need to keep in mind some principles related to treatment. Sometimes conflicts occur in health organisation at the time of providing health service. They need take decision in a way which does not show disrespect to ethics.


In this assignment, the case study of Edward is discussed and various aspects of his medical treatment are thoroughly analysed. Edward is a 37-year-old man who is in diabetic coma. At first, health professionals thought he would be able to survive with the help of their treatment. However, later he was not responding to medical treatment anymore and there was no sign of improvement. Various legal issues and ethical issues are thoroughly analysed in this study. In the section of legal issues, legal authority, legal obligation and legal consequences are understood. In the section of ethical issues, different principles related to ethics of medical treatment are described.


  • Abdulazeez, S. S. (2015). Diabetes treatment: A rapid review of the current and future scope of stem cell research. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 23(4).
  • Çakërri, L., Myrtaj, E., Vyshka, G., & Toti, F. (2014). Prolonged Coma after Single, Unintentional Overdose of Insulin: Concurring Factors Leading to a Persistent Neurological Condition. American Journal of Medical Case Reports, 2(2).
  • Dunning, T., Duggan, N., Savage, S., & Martin, P. (2013). Diabetes and end of life: ethical and methodological issues in gathering evidence to guide care.Scandinavian journal of caring sciences, 27(1).
  • Himsworth, H. P. (2013). Diabetes Mellitus: Its differentiation into insulin-sensitive and insulin-insensitive types. International journal of epidemiology,42(6).
  • Hovorka, R., Elleri, D., Thabit, H., Allen, J. M., Leelarathna, L., El-Khairi, R., ... & Murphy, H. R. (2014). Overnight closed-loop insulin delivery in young people with type 1 diabetes: a free-living, randomized clinical trial. Diabetes Care, 37(5).
  • Kodali, V. R. R. (2015). Death due to hypoglycemia: medico-legal implications. International Journal of Diabetes in Developing Countries, 35(4).
  • Krasuska, M., Johnson, B., Norman, P., Campbell, F., Hammond, P., Elliott, J., & Heller, S. (2016). An educational course for young people with type 1 diabetes: impact on self-management and well-being. European Health Psychologist, 18
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