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Introduction to Ethics and Society

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Ethical considerations in Healthcare are of utmost vitality and Utilitarian theory provides the base for decision-making o for the use of ventilators in the pandemic period. Covid-19 has led to turbulence and a shortage of resources in hospitals and healthcare centers. Allocation of these resources was subject to the availability of these resources such as ventilators and oxygen cylinders for the increasing number of patients. The rampant surge in cases put the healthcare workers in dilemma to decide for the ventilators use and who should be provided with ventilators. The theory proposed for making the decision is the Utilitarian theory propounded by Jeremy Bentham. Alongside, Deontology is evaluated to propel the use of ventilators based on judicious use (Hübner et al., 2020).

The Utilitarian theory focuses on maximizing happiness and satisfaction derived from the action course for all associated individuals. Allocating ventilators to patients based on the utilitarian approach is preferable as it will satisfy the patient and his/her family with the success of the treatment. Utilitarianism promotes eliminating the risk of mischief, pain, evil, and dejection faced by patients (Hübner et al., 2020). If the patient is in sheer agony and wishes not to take ventilators, the utilitarian approach will support such a decision. This theory is based on the result and end of the means rather than the course of action adopted. Modern utilitarianism suggests that ventilators must be allocated to minimize pain and suffering for the majority of the patients. This implicitly means that if there is no or negligible chance of reviving for a patient, the ventilator must be allocated to the patient who has a significant chance to get healthy again in the pandemic (Akram, 2021). This was also supported by the discussion that ventilators might add to the suffering of the person who has the least chances to get successfully treated. This will mean that the ventilators are used judiciously during the period with a great scarcity of resources. Utilitarian theory suggests the course of action must result in the highest satisfaction and happiness of the person along with minimizing the suffering to the greatest extent possible. Allocation of ventilators to patients with chances of revival was propelled as morally acceptable by this theory (Savulescu, Persson, & Wilkinson, 2020).

The other theory that contradicts the utilitarian theory is the Deontology theory of philosophy that exhorts on the action course rather than its consequence. It suggests that the patient that requires the ventilators most such as elders and senior citizens must be provided with ventilators before patients who have good chances of revival. It puts forward the duty and obligation of the healthcare practitioners and doctors to save the life of the person, even if the chances are negligible. It propels that doctors and healthcare workers must try their best to save the lives of people with negligible chance of revival. During Covid, this theory supported the senior citizens and patients with medical conditions who required the ventilators more than people with no such health conditions (Chan, Berg, & Nadkarni, 2020). This theory is based on the course of action rather than the result. The person with optimum health history should be treated with another alternative that suits his health condition but the patient that has no other alternative but ventilators must be provided with it. It implicitly means that not allocating ventilators to patients with an insignificant chance of revival is immoral. Kantianism theory believes that it is the motive of the practitioner and not the consequence of the action that defines the morality of the practice of his/her profession. Doctors need to treat patients equally and fairly and therefore ventilators must be allocated to patients who need it the most (Romero-Rivas and Rodriguez-Cuadrado, 2021).

To conclude the essay, it can be said that both the theories have significant proponents and can be used by healthcare practitioners to decide for the use and allocation of ventilators and other medical instruments son the time of the pandemic. Deontology has exhorted on the action course and means whereas utilitarianism exhorts on the consequence to derive maximum satisfaction and minimum suffering. It can be deduced that both theories provide different solutions for the problem of allocation of the resources in healthcare but are justified because works in the interest of the patient. Covid-19 has been a challenging period for the healthcare industry due to rampant surges in the cases and sheer scarcity of medical resources. It is therefore vital to make a morally accepted decision regarding the allocation of resources.


Akram, F., 2021. Moral Injury and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Philosophical Viewpoint. Ethics, Medicine and Public Health, p.100661.

Chan, P. S., Berg, R. A., & Nadkarni, V. M. (2020). Code blue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes13(5), e006779.

Hübner, J., Schewe, D. M., Katalinic, A., & Frielitz, F. S. (2020). Legal Issues of Resource Allocation in the COVID-19 Pandemic-Between Utilitarianism and Life Value Indifference. Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift (1946)145(10), 687-692.

Romero-Rivas, C. and Rodriguez-Cuadrado, S., 2021. The Psychological Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Decision-Making Processes. The Spanish journal of psychology24.

Savulescu, J., Persson, I., & Wilkinson, D. (2020). Utilitarianism and the pandemic. Bioethics34(6), 620-632.

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