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Clinical Ethics

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The CVMC ethics committee offers educational programs on clinical ethics and provides consultation on ethical issues that arise during patient care.

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The CVMC ethics committee offers educational programs on clinical ethics and provides consultation on ethical issues that arise during patient care. The committee includes physicians, nurses, social workers, members of the clergy, and community representatives.

The consultation service is available at any time to help resolve a broad array of dilemmas that may raise ethical conflicts or questions.  These issues can include:

  • difficulty interpreting or applying advance directives
  • questions regarding the appropriate health care decisionmaker for the patient
  • assessment of capacity to request or refuse treatment
  • treatment goals and limitations
  • use of resources; financial constraints to treatment
  • assessment of cultural or religious beliefs that may impact patient care
  • requests for unorthodox therapies
  • decisionmaking for socially isolated patients
  • confidentiality concerns

Who may request an ethics consultation? 

These requests may be made by the patient, by his or her family or guardian, or by any professional involved in the care of the patient.

How do I initiate an ethics consultation? 

Patients and families should notify a staff member of their desire to request a consultation. They may speak with a nurse, physician, care manager, or chaplain. CVMC staff may request a consultation by going to R://CVMC Root/CVMC Shared Files/Ethics/1-clinical consults.

What happens once a request is made? 

Upon receiving a request for an ethics consultation, members of the committee review medical records and may interview patients, families, and caregivers in order to gain a fuller understanding of the situation.  The committee then convenes to analyze the ethical issue.  Their analysis culminates in a report that suggests several paths towards resolving the dilemma.   The recommendations made by the committee are suggestions only and are not mandates.

These recommendations are generally issued within 48 hours of the request; a speedier process is possible when needed.  This service is free of charge.