Four quadrant approach Professor Heather Draper, Catherine Hale,
Four quadrant approach Professor Heather Draper, Catherine Hale, Lt Cdr Alan Brockie Who are these slides for? These slides introduce the four quadrant approach (4QA) to making ethical decisions They can be used to familiarise yourself with this tool, or to present the tool to others to use perhaps in conjunction with some of our case studies as a group work exercise. Anyone is free to use them. We ask only that you preserve the accreditation in full.
What is the 4QA? The 4QA has been adopted by UK Defence Medical Services as a useful way working through an ethical issue in clinical practice1 It is not a theory or principle or formula. It is more of a tool for organising your thoughts Here we are using a slightly modified representation of the 4QA based on the work conducted to evaluate it use by the military2 1.Ministry of Defence. Joint Service Publication ( JSP 999). Clinical Guidelines for 14 Operations. Section 5: Pathways 7 Version Change 3 September, London: MoD, 2012. 2. Bernthall, EMM, Russell, RJ Draper, H A qualitative study of the use of the four quadrant approach to assist ethical decision-making during deployment. JR Army Corps 2014 160; 96-202
The 4QA was adapted by Sokel3 from the four topics approach to assist ethical decisionmaking in palliative care4. It assumes a reasonable amount of time for discussion and this time may not be available in kinetic situations. 3. Sokol DK. The four quadrants approach to clinical ethics case analysis: an application and review. J Med Ethics 2008;34:51316. 4. Schumann JH, Alfandre D. Clinical ethical decision making: the four topics approach. Semin Med Pract 2008;11:3642. In a training context, we suggest that groups are given a case to tackle, literally draw the
four quadrants on a large flip chart/white board and discuss what information or considerations should go in each of the quadrants. It is important, however, that they follow all three steps, rather than jumping straight to Step 2 Step 1 asking the right question Identifying THE ethical issue is not always straightforward There might also be more than one
We may need to discuss which is the most important or pressing question. We may need to repeat the process for each question Ethical questions generally include ethical terms e.g. ought; should Can I give this patient a blood transfusion? vs Should give this patient a blood transfusion? Of course what you ought to do depends on what you can do: no obligation to do the impossible ought implies can Quadrant 1
Medical Implications This is probably the easy bit It tells you what you CAN do NB this helps to define the scope of your moral responsibilities Sets out options and potential outcomes good ethics start with good facts Sometimes disagreements over the best medical management present as ethical issues and can be resolved at this point. Puts everyone on the same starting page Opportunity to revisit the question However
Q1 assumes that the medical indications are clear Whereas often ethical issues arise because of uncertainty And also what seems likely turns out not to be And sometimes this resolves the ethical issue E.g. Patient dies unexpectedly And sometimes it changes the question E.g. Patient unexpectedly survives withdrawal of care: now what? This may mean going back to step one The order matters
The order imposes a hierarchy of values based at least partly on predominant western ethical norms, with respect for autonomy driving Q2 & Q3. This is not JUST a fact gathering exercise (though this has been found to be useful). Quadrant 2 Patient Preferences Can put an end to the matter Refusal of consent by a competent patient has to be respected; go no further? Previously stated wishes; go no further?
Go no further? Assumes autonomy trumps other concerns Have sufficient evidence of wishes Might not be known Adult without capacity & no one available to provide information Might not exist - minors Though parental wishes might be relevant, assuming parents present And parents acting in the best interests of minor Privileging autonomy: why? Maximises welfare
Tied to consequential reasoning; its the best way to achieve benefit NOT absolute Autonomy only privileged whilst it And professional codes maximises benefit Need to buy into Need to buy into deontological thinking consequential thinking Moral theory is not pick and mix
Respect for persons Tied to Kantian understanding of moral responsibility Absolute Reflects law (by and large) Quadrant 3 Quality of Life Supposed only get here if the patient unable to express a preference (including through others) Assumes patient best judge, if able to judge, including of their QoL
But patients preferences could be unreasonable Reasons for privileging autonomy may now start to bite Aspect of first do no harm / beneficence Likely to be informed by Q1 People disagree on what gives life quality People disagree especially about the relationship between quality of life and value of life.
Quadrant 4 Contextual Factors This includes practically any other consideration Resource limitations Cultural differences or other personal biases Impact on others, including medical team Were deployed military personal operating within military constraints Its a humanitarian disaster/complex emergency Its Ebola were dealing with Q4 helps with transparency but provides no mechanism for weighing factors in the balance i.e. arriving at Step 3
Step 3 - What have we decided to do and why? Note that this step contains two parts Ethical decisions Actions It allows you to and agree and summarise, for the patients record, what the important ethical considerations in the case are which enables you to justify
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