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Healthcare ethics consultants share lessons learned
Date:11/5/2012

erial for future iterations as well."

The published paper includes 12 'pearls and pitfalls' developed from the collective experience of CECA members. The authors note these 12 points are not intended to be an encyclopedic account of everything to bear in mind when conducting ethics consultations, but they agree that these 12 are important and a good starting place.

A key piece of advice shared in the paper is the importance of having a standardized method for conducting healthcare ethics consultation. Medical circumstances will vary, Carrese says, but the method for analyzing them should not. The authors quote Aristotle: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. "Approaching one's work differently each time increases the likelihood of omissions and mistakes," they write.

The authors address the concern of being labeled a boat-rocker or whistle-blower for requesting ethics consultation. Support for ethics consultation must be institutional, they write, with ongoing outreach and education efforts by consultants. Marketing of ethics consultation services is also integral to how they are perceived and should be planned thoughtfully, the authors note.

What if time doesn't allow for a formal ethics consultation? "There is an important distinction between providing general education or coaching about communication principles, and giving specific advice about a particular patient that may lead to important decisions about that patient's medical care," the authors advise. "Avoid offering specific advice about a particular patient unless it is in the context of a formal case consultation."

"These suggestions for effective healthcare ethics consultation, gleaned from the experience of national experts, could make a positive difference when an ethics consultant is faced with helping the healthcare team, the patient and perhaps their family make a difficult and high stakes decision," Carrese sa
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Contact: Leah Ramsay
lramsay@jhu.edu
202-642-9640
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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