The Hospital Ethics Committee: Was it of Help?: Tell Your Story
I have been the chair person of two hospital ethics committees over the past 23 years and my current committee continues to do its assigned job. The role of the committee includes being the educator, being the facilitator, being the mediator when an ethical issue appears as a patient is being treated and one or more stakeholders in the issue request help from our committee. We sort out the issues and explain to the stakeholders the possible ethical and legal courses but we don’t make the final decisions. We, as members, hope that our education, facilitation and mediation has been beneficial to all those who look to us for help and, of course, particularly the patient.
In my own experience, the grades of our performance as given to us by the stakeholders have been good. It does seem that our committee fills a need. But that is only by my personal experience. In all these over 700 threads on ethics, I have never asked my visitors about their experiences with hospital ethics committees. I strongly suspect that most of the patients and their families who have had a hospital experience never had any interaction with that hospital’s ethics committee. In fact, there may be many visitors here who didn’t even know that there was such a resource available in your hospital.
But to those who do know and had the experience, usually as a family member of the sick patient or even that of the patient, I would be interested to read about that experience and whether you felt that the interaction with the committee was to the good of the patient and a beneficial experience. If you tell your stories, tell them anonymously and don’t name names, for reasons of privacy to the patient and fairness to the hospital. Tell us what was the issue and in which way the hospital ethics committee itself helped or didn’t help. As I suggested, I am not expecting a large number of replies but I still wanted to provide a means for the public to grade these committees. ..Maurice.