Ethics Center

  • Frequently Asked Questions

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    + Who can request an ethics consultation?

    Anyone directly involved in a patient's care can request an ethics consultation.  This includes the patient, the patient’s parent or guardian, medical center staff, attending doctors, nurses, social workers, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and child life staff.   While the attending physician is always notified of a request, he or she is not able to refuse a consultation.

    + Can I request anonymity?

    While the subcommittee generally encourages individuals to disclose their concerns and their request to the other members of the treatment team, in special circumstances, it will try to keep the requestor’s name confidential.  At times the nature of the concern may make this difficult.  The subcommittee, however, does not accept requests from individuals who refuse to identify themselves.

    + When should I contact the Ethics Consultation Subcommittee?

    The subcommittee can assist when individuals are uncertain about what is the ethically right thing to do or there is disagreement about what is the ethically right thing to do.  The subcommittee does not evaluate complaints of unethical behavior.  The consultants will have an initial conversation with the requestor and may refer some issues to others who are better able to address them.

    + Does a patient need to be an inpatient to request a consult?

    Patients do not need to be admitted at the time the request is made.

    + What are the differences among clinical, research and organizational ethics?

    Clinical ethics focuses on the ethical issues involved in the medical treatment of patients. Research ethics addresses the ethics of creating generalizable knowledge. Organizational ethics considers the ethical issues in the business of healthcare.