Ethics Committee in Hospitals
An Ethics Committee in hospitals is an advisory group appointed by the Hospital Medical Executive Board. The multidisciplinary ethics committee represents the hospital and the community it serves. Most hospitals have an ethics committee, made up of doctors, nurses, lawyers and clergy, which can get together to help families or health care workers when difficult ethical questions arise. Family members can request an Ethics Committee consultation at many hospitals.
Representatives or Committee Members of an Ethics Committee
- Physicians or doctors
- Social workers
- Patient relations liaison
- A chaplain
- Medical ethics professional (bioethicists)
- Lay-persons from the community
Purpose of the Committee
- The ethics committee reviews, on request, ethical or moral questions that may come up during a patient’s care.
- To educate the staff and the community regarding moral principles and processes of ethical decision making when faced with diverse issues that arise in the care of the critically and terminally patients.
- Provide consultation to professional staff, patients and families.
Responsibilities of the Hospital Ethics Committee
- Act as patient advocate on bioethical issues.
- Develop and recommend hospital policies and guidelines that define ethical principles for conduct within the hospital. These guidelines and policies pertain to issues such as informed consent, research protocols and advance directives.
- Provide advisory consultation and review in cases where ethical dilemmas are perceived by the patient or the patient’s family, surrogate, physician or medical team or other hospital or clinic staff upon request. OR nurses and surgical technologists are often confronted with social, ethical and legal decisions concerning genetic and reproductive biology, organ transplantation and death with dignity. The primary responsibility of the Ethics committee will be to encourage dialogue, educate and identify issues, offer variable options, seek supplemental resources and encourage problem resolution at the physician or patient level.
- To establish forums for the discussion of ethical concerns. The ethics committee can provide a forum for discussion of some issues. In these forums, the committee will educate the hospital and clinic personnel, patients and their families about the hospital policies regarding ethical issues.
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