Clinical Ethics Research

Many ethical issues arise in the conduct of medical care, especially in hospital intensive care units and with the advanced technologies of modern medicine. As medical technologies improve, so do options for managing healthcare, forcing some patients and healthcare professionals to make difficult treatment decisions. Clinical ethicists seek to improve patient care by combining the perspectives of healthcare professionals, patients and families to help when facing difficult treatment decisions. Our center’s clinical ethicists provide this service in a consultative capacity to three premier institutions in the Texas Medical Center, as well as conducting original research in this realm.

Our current research in this area examines ethical issues arising in the clinical setting, such as moral distress. Moral distress occurs when health care professionals cannot carry out what they believe to be ethically appropriate actions because of external (institutional) or internal (personal) constraints.