Here's an ethical dilemma presented to my CPE group:
Mrs. CZ is a 71 year old woman who has a recently diagnosed lung cancer for which she has refused surgery and radiation therapy. She developed pneumonia distal to the tumor and was admitted to the community hospital in her rural county. She has shown no signs of improvement for 7 days and has continued to refuse treatment for lung cancer. She is now comatose and requires mechanical ventilation. The victim of an automobile accident is brought to the hospital with a crushed chest, apparent pneumothorax, and broken bones in the extremities. The patient requires a respirator immediately. Of the six patients on the six respirators in the unit, Mrs. CZ has the poorest prognosis. She seems unable to be weaned and thus would probably die if ventilatory support were discontinued. Should she be removed in favor of the accident victim?
How would you answer?