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“How doing the right thing means meeting brick walls in humanity and healthcare”


iStock | Spotmatik

iStock | Spotmatik

What does it mean to do the “right thing” in healthcare? Brittney from The Nerdy Nurse discusses rational vs. emotional decisions and what “doing the right thing” really means. Read what she has to say below…

I’ve been talking with my friend Kate (of Girl Meets Geek) about “Brick Walls,” a blog post written on

You should read the post. It’s powerful.

In summation, there is a little girl who needs a kidney transplant. The doctor refuses to do it for “quality of life” reasons, while also stating that the little girl is “mentally retarded.” But it’s not just a transplant that she will need; it’s lifelong care, another transplant in 10 years and likely a future filled with pain, suffering and a full-on medical circus. The doctor and the social worker are attempting to explain the reasoning to the devoted parents of this child, but both sides are hitting a brick wall.

Professional and Rational, Parental and Emotional

I can see both sides of this story. As a professional, I see the need to make a rational decision based on evidence and fact, but as a parent, there is a very real need for this decision to be based on emotion.

Making the Best Decision

The doctor really is trying to make the best decision for the child in question. He has the rational perspective of an outsider that is following guidelines, standards and data. He is making a decision based upon medical facts and known impacts of the procedure. He is making the “right” decision from a modern medical perspective.

As a parent, if someone told me my child could not have a lifesaving medical procedure, I would probably punch them right in the mouth. There is no telling what incomprehensible language might pour out of my mouth as I tear them to pieces and explain why my child will have anything and everything they need. As I explain to them that they have no right to judge the quality of my child’s life. They have no right to make a life-or-death decision for my child.

But then what about my child?

My child who is too small, too impaired to have a voice in it all.

I am blessed to have a child free from a disability, so I cannot even begin to address the level of emotional complexity that this adds to the ordeal. I can’t imagine having to fight for every medical treatment because of ailments that my child suffered. I just cannot imagine that. They’ve already fought so much for their little girl; why on earth would anyone expect them to give up the fight now?

As humans we have to be rational and emotional all at the time.

Do Nurses Separate Their Emotions From Their Practices?

Do you separate your emotions from your nursing practice or is your nursing practice based upon your emotions? Can we separate the our caring acts from the the emotion of caring? Are we careful to be aware of how much we become invested in the care we perform to prevent burnout and fatigue? Are we kidding ourselves if we even try to not get emotionally involved with our patients?

We are not robots.

We make rational and irrational decisions and can almost never entirely separate emotions from the equation.

In this particular incidence of rational versus emotional, both parties are doing the “right thing.”

To read the full post, head on over to The Nerdy Nurse. Then, in the comments below, let us know what you think about this story!

The Nerdy Nurse
Brittney Wilson, RN, BSN, also known as The Nerdy Nurse, is a Clinical Informatics Specialist practicing in Georgia. In her day job she gets to do what she loves every day: Combine technology and healthcare to improve patient outcomes. She can best be described as a patient, nurse and technology advocate, and has a passion for using technology to innovate, improve and simplify lives, especially in healthcare. Brittney blogs about nursing issues, technology, healthcare, parenting and various lifestyle topics at

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