In the Line of Fire

By H. I. Grousbeck, Alexander Tauber, Elizabeth A. Zambricki
2010 | Case No. ETH9 | Length 8 pgs.
Dystonia is a disease that most of the Marvis family suffered from. Not only this, but mother Stephanie Marvis also was a single mother working hard to finance her four person family. Stephanie and her son David especially had symptoms of dystonia, which forced Stephanie to frequently take her son to the hospital. After much research, Stephanie found the Stanford Hospital’s Dr. Fields, who helped implant a device that would halt some of the dystonia symptoms. When the device breaks, David suffers for many months because Stephanie doesn’t feel it is necessary to go to the Stanford Hospital. However, when they finally reach the hospital, Stephanie becomes very combative of her situation, defending her choice to not uproot David earlier. The doctors and hospital staff must determine how to communicate with her, while arguing amongst themselves about the appropriate way to address the situation.

Learning Objective

The communication difficulties shared by the Marvis family and doctors at Stanford Hospital provide an important lesson for those training for the medical field. It is very important to understand the situation in which a family is in that may require them to behave differently than what is rational. While it may be easy to make a decision without these details, it is unethical and may result in poor judgement and care for the patients.
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