Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Publish Opinions of Hospital Ethics Committees?

Our friend Thaddeus Pope prompted a wide ranging discussion on our end with the suggestion that hospital ethics committees publish their opinions.

Following are the thoughts of Tarris Rosell, PhD, the Rosemary Flanigan Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics.


Hmm. I can see Thad Pope's point. And there are any number of interesting case consultations on which collegial input might be welcomed.

It is easier to think of publishing (online, listserve, journal) a case that is several years past rather than one current or recent, due to fear of violating privacy even with de-identified data. Feedback on the latter sort (current or recent) likely would be of more value for its freshness and immediate critique, affirmation or accountability.

Yet, I wonder what our HIPAA people and Risk Manager would say about Professor Pope's

By the way, I think there are not a majority of ethics committees that function in a way as to have potentially publishable "committee opinions." Many of our hospitals have consultation services or subcommittees, or else a solo clinical ethics consultant.

The chart notes or emailed responses that are drafted in response to a consultation request typically would not rise to the level of written "opinion" that an attorney like Pope might have in mind. On the other hand, we do write recommendations in the chart oftentimes, and those could well be challenged by peer review--if submitted for such.

Tarris Rosell, PhD, DMin
Rosemary Flanigan Chair
Center for Practical Bioethics



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