Clinical Ethics and the Clinical Ethics Committee

The Clinical Ethics Consultation service is available, on request, to help HGMH health care workers, patients and families explore options for their difficult ethical questions and dilemmas related to healthcare.

What is "clinical ethics" in health care?

In health care settings, ethical questions arise when "the right thing to do" is un-clear, or when people disagree about what is best for a patient.

What is the Clinical Ethics Committee?

The Clinical Ethics Committee is made up of healthcare workers that have a variety of backgrounds and an Ethicist. We work together to try and protect the rights of people in the healthcare system by being a resource for those who make decisions about patient care. Our roles are to increase awareness and knowledge about clinical ethics. The Committee is an education resource for healthcare workers and can advise on the ethical part of policies and priorities.

How can the Clinical Ethics Committee help in the Ethics Consultation?

The Clinical Ethics Consultation service is available to patients, their families and health care professionals, to help them identify, understand and resolve difficult healthcare ethics questions. The Clinical Ethics Consultation service is a consultative and advisory body and does not make decisions regarding a person's care or the organizations policies.

Why would someone be referred?

Generally, ethical questions arise when "the right thing to do" is not clear or when people disagree for a person who requires care.

Here are some examples of questions or issues we can help you with:

  • Concerns associated with end-of-life treatments (code status, advance directives, withholding/withdrawal of medical interventions, etc.)
  • Questions regarding surrogate decision-making
  • Determining "appropriate" levels of intervention
  • Patient refusal of treatment
  • Real or perceived conflicts between and among patient, family, physicians, nurses, etc.
  • Unresolved moral concerns of patient, family, or care providers

Who can refer for a consultation?

The Clinical Ethics consultation service will accept referrals from physicians, staff, volunteers, families and patients where an ethical issue or dilemma regarding patient care exists.

How are referrals made?

A request for a referral can be made by contacting your physician or nurse. If you need help to decide whether or not an Ethics Consultation would help you, please feel free to talk to the Ethics Committee Co-Chair .

What information is needed?

The Clinical Ethics Consultation service will ask for a completed "Consultation Request Form" to be completed by the Health Care Provider referring the request) including:

  • A clear and honest statement of the problem
  • An idea about what has already been done to deal with the issue
  • The name of the persons making the request
  • An idea of how urgent the problem is

What does the Clinical Ethics consultation consider?

Clinical Ethics consultations consider the following ethical principles (guidelines that help us make the best possible decisions about patient care):

  • Respect for patient autonomy and self determination
  • Beneficence (doing good)
  • Non-maleficence (not doing harm)

What results can be expected?

All consultations are confidential and are bound by the same policies and procedures as other patient and organizational records. The Clinical Ethics Committee role is advisory only.

The final decision about a health related issue lies with the patient (or legal representative) and the doctor involved. Clinical Ethics consultation provides a facilitated forum for thoughtful exploration of how to act well and make morally good choices based on beliefs and values about life, health, suffering and death.

The Hospital Ethics Committee recommends that all patients and family members review and complete an advance directive. To learn more about advance directives, please speak with your physician or nurse.

Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital is a compassionate provider of patient-centered health services. Our workplace values include: Integrity, Respect, Quality, Stewardship and Community Interaction. Our Ethics Consultation Service shares those values and pledges to uphold them.

Telehealth

Telehealth Ontario is a free, confidential telephone service you can call to get health advice or general health information from a Registered Nurse. The service provides round-the-clock access, to a qualified health professional. It can help you decide whether to care for yourself, make an appointment with your doctor, go to a clinic, contact a community service or go to a hospital emergency room.

Call Telehealth Ontario:

1-866-797-0000

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