Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Roaming for Ethics Consults

Rosemary Flanigan
April 28, 2010

Some hospitals have people who "roam" about the hospital looking for ethical issues and/or pain sufferers.

Last week when I was talking to a group of nurses and one complained that she often has to do inhumane treatment on a child without being able to talk to the physicians who were ordering it, I reached back into my life as an academic and wondered if hospitals couldn’t profit from a DEAN!!

We always had recourse to a dean who could whip recalcitrant faculty into some sort of order. I think well-functioning ethics committees could serve this purpose, IF issues are brought to them.

What do you think?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ethics committees generally restricted their role to helping resolve disputes between health care providers and patients. Even in that type of interaction, it has been for situations where patients asked for treatments that the providers thought were inappropriate or futile.

In my ten years on the Ethics Committee of my hospital, only one did a nurse from the Newborn Intensive Care Unit call for an ethics consultation.

I had proposed to the Ethics Committee to set up a system by which representatives of the Ethics Committee would go to different units and ask about "problem" cases. The idea was rejected by the committee.

I feel that health care providers at all levels should be empowered to be able to ask the senior physician to provide justification for their action. This should be for all types of treatment plans. If a physician wants to change the focus of treatment to comfort care/hospice, she/he should be able to justify that action to all co-workers if they disagree or have questions. On the other hand, if a care giver feels that the patient would not benefit from a treatment that could be painful, that too should be explained by the senior physician.

In reality, this idea has not been received well.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010  

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