!

COVID-19 Response 

Access our COVID-19 Response homepage, with more information and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, including what to do if you’re experiencing symptoms.

Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy

Ethics Consultation FAQ

Master
Content

An ethics consultation service assists patients, doctors and members of the patient’s care team to navigate value-laden conflict and uncertainty and helps determine which actions should or should not be taken. Typical ethical issues that are appropriate for ethics consultation may include:

  • Questions about how to interpret an advance care-planning document
  • Steps to identify an appropriate surrogate decision-maker
  • Feedback for resolution of discordance that exists between a patient and family members, between family members, or between patient/family and healthcare professionals about plans of care or the appropriateness of treatment plans
  • Concerns or questions exist regarding end-of-life treatment decisions
  • Review of cutting-edge and complex treatments such as fetal-maternal medicine or transplantation ethics
  • Suggestions for preventing ethical conflict
Content

Due to the varying complexity of topics, ethics consultations do not always follow a prescribed design.

Typically the consultant(s) will discuss the case with the care team and meet with the patient and/or family. The goal in meeting with these individuals is to gather information, clarify perspectives, and engage in problem-solving. Ethics consultants may ask for multidisciplinary meetings or family meetings to establish consensus among different stakeholders, mediate discordance, or facilitate decision-making about plans of care.

After discussion with various stakeholders and extensive information-gathering the ethics consultant will conduct an ethical analysis and often leave recommendations for ongoing care. These recommendations are typically advisory in nature.

Heading

Did You Know?

Content
  • Ethics consultations don’t just occur over the phone; typically consultants meet in person with the care team and patient/family.
  • The ethics service works to provide support and guidance by being non-judgmental and offering action-oriented, clinically feasible recommendations rather than “telling people what to do.”
  • If requested, your name/role can be kept confidential when calling for a consultation.
  • The ethics consultation service provides the added benefit of individual consultants who are supported by the larger ethics committee.
  • There is no charge for using the clinical ethics consultation service in the affiliated hospitals
  • Although less than 5% of ethics consultants in the nation are fellowship-trained in clinical ethics, the majority of the Center’s consultants are fellowship-trained in clinical ethics consultation.
  • Center faculty are heavily involved in national clinical ethics initiatives, scholarship/research on clinical ethics consultation and “best practices,” and training for the next generation of clinical ethicists.