Blog 1 Ethical Decision Making


While trying to develop a low-cost syringe for the developing world context, you (the designer) hit a crossroads. Constructing the syringe to auto-disable after a single use, an important safety feature, significantly adds to the cost of the design – making it potentially unaffordable for some hospitals and clinics. However, if you don’t add the safety feature, you are enabling the potential for the spread of disease. How do you as a designer proceed?


Step 1: Determine the facts in the situation 

  • The syringe needs to be low-cost, reliable, and prevent the spread of diseases
  • The auto-disable safety feature increases the cost of the syringe making it unaffordable for hospitals in developing countries
  • Not including this safety feature would allow for the reuse of syringes  which causes the spread of diseases
  • The syringe is being designed for the developing world which makes the cost an important factor 
  • Auto-disable syringe cannot be reused because the plunger locks once a drug is administered

Ethical Issue: If the Designer decides to make an auto-disable syringe it would allow for safe and low risk administration but many hospitals and clinics in the developing world would not be able to afford the syringe making for a community without necessary healthcare. If the designer leaves out the safety feature medicine will be able to be administered but the risk of spreading diseases becomes much higher.

Step 2: Define the Stakeholders and Motivations- those with a vested interest in the outcome

  • Designers
    • I want to keep the community safe and provide patients with reliable healthcare
    • Build my portfolio and connections
    • Boost Credentials
    • interest in making a positive social impact
  • Hospitals and clinics (administrators)
    • Want to keep allocate resources to health issues that could be avoided
    • Want to keep their patients safe and healthy instead of sending them away more sick
  • Manufacturers/companies that produce the syringe
    • want to keep supplying the hospital with a syringe model so they keep making money
    • keep or build their reputation
    • grow their partnerships with hospitals
  • Patients
    • want affordable health care
    • want to know their shot is reliable and safe
    • want to receive immunizations and drugs with out the risk of receiving other diseases
  • Physicians 
    • will be able to develop a relationship with patients
    • will protect their livelihood with security of knowing they will not penetrate patients with a used syringe

Step 4: alternative solutions

  • (1)Continue Research and Development to find a materials/design that allows for the auto-disable feature to be affordable
    • Pros: There is potential for the auto-disable syringe to be used in the future and there is the potential to reduce the spread of diseases
    • Cons: This option would take more time with no guarantee of a solution, thus time could be wasted. Also while the syringe is being developed, diseases will have a higher potential of spreading through administration
    • Ethical Principle or code : This material would be cheaper than the current material and offset the added costs of the safety feature. This solution allows for administration to occur safely and everywhere which is the duty of hospitals – to provide healthcare to those in need
  • (2) Syringe that Changes color once it is some sort of seal is broken when giving a shot
    • Pros:
      • The syringe would be reusable and prevent the spread of disease
      • It is clear if the syringe has been used or not
      • the hospital will be better able to afford it
    • Cons:
      • the seal could break before use or never be sealed
      • syringes that have their seal broken before use will eventually begin to waste money
      • Could be less effective
      • Can be used by drug users
    • Ethical Principle or code: This solution would prevent the spread of diseases in the hospital but consequently it would not prevent the spread of disease outside of the hospital with drug users.
  • (3)Provide all hospitals and clinics with a device that breaks syringes after use
    • Pros:
      • Would be 100% effective in preventing use if the syringe is broken
      • prevents disease from being spread
    • Cons:
      • Could slow down the time taken to administer shots and dispose of the syringes
      •  Could malfunction and not be able to be broken
    • Ethical Principle or code:  This device would be as cheap as a regular syringe but would require the manufacturing of a device that can break syringes after use which could consequently take more time


Step 5: Seek additional assistance, as appropriate 

Syringes cost roughly 15 to 20 dollars per box of 100 (

Step 6: Select the best course of action

The best course of action would be to provide all hospitals and clinics with a device to break the syringes after administration. This would be best because the cost per syringe does not increase rather a yearly purchase of a device to break syringes would increase. This solution allows for the spread of disease to be prevented in the hospitals and clinics as well as among the community. Thus, this solution allows for wide spread accessibility, safety, and reliability. Comparatively, this solution will cost less than the other two and take less time to develop than the other two solutions. However, this solution can result in extra expenses and time as the health care workers would need to be trained on how to properly break the syringes and the breaking device will cost more money. All in all, solution number three is the best course of action because it preserves the reliability of the original syringe , lowers the potential for the spread of diseases, and requires the least amount of money and time.

Step 7:  What are the implications of your solution on the venture?


This ventures decision has implications technologically, socially, and economically. Technologically this venture allows for affordable syringes to be brought to developing countries and allows for their to be more safety in their health care system. Socially it allows for doctors and hospitals to improve their relationship with patients by telling them they use safe syringes every time they administer shots. This venture will also allow for a positive social impact as all of the stakeholders motivations are being fulfilled. Economically, the lower cost will allow more developing countries to provide safer health care to their patients and allow for more profits over time. Although there will be investment for the breaking device it could be as simple as a pair of sharp scissors which would be cheaper than the auto-disable feature being implemented on every syringe overtime. It will also allow for their economy to keep developing instead of allowing their community to succumb to the diseases that will be passed around. All of these impacts combined together help prove the optimization of solution number 3


1 Comment on Blog 1 Ethical Decision Making

  1. bss222
    August 29, 2020 at 3:31 pm (5 months ago)

    Really nice understanding of the problem and the stake holders. Next time be more specific in your analysis of the possible impact of your choice.

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