'Both horns of a dilemma are usually attached to the same bull'. 1
In the examples that we considered in Chapter 1, we saw that there are four main principles appealed to in ethical decision making: Principle of Beneficence, Principle of Autonomy, Principle of Non-maleficence and Principle of Justice. In the following example, three of these principles are considered.
An individual has cancer and asks a member of the health-care team, in this case a nurse, what is wrong with him. The nurse knows from close relatives of the cancer sufferer that he will be overcome by depression if he knows the true diagnosis. He has the prospect of a few more months of life with some pain that could be alleviated by drugs. It seems reasonable to suppose that the quality of life of the sufferer in these last few months will be better if he does not know the truth of his diagnosis. Should the nurse tell him what is wrong with him?