Friday, September 24, 2010

Ethics Consultations Curbside and Elsewhere

George Flangan, DMin, MA
Program Associate
Center for Practical Bioethics

Physicians in private practice settings, and often in hospital settings as well, do not go far to seek consultation for their ethical concerns. It is typical, especially in small communities where there are few physicians and no bioethicists, that a phone call or a hallway chat with a colleague, usually in the same practice, is deemed sufficient to make an ethically sound decision.

Do they know the right questions to ask?

The Center for Practical Bioethics has long recommended interdisciplinary ethics consultation teams/committees because the conversation allows a diversity of perspectives. Among physicians who practice together, as with most professional groups, there develops a culture of practice that may effectively limit the questions they ask about treatment decisions.

It’s as true in healthcare ethics as it is in any part of life: If I have an ethical concern or, at least, some uncertainty about a treatment, I will do best to include in the consultation someone who is willing to tell me I am, simply, wrongheaded, rather than merely helping me justify an action I have already decided I want to take.

Link: Consultations on ethics are not limited to the curbside, American Medical News, September 20, 2010



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