ETHICS00000024.gif Ethics Committee

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations requires that hospitals have a mechanism in place to consider ethical issues in patient care.  Most hospitals fulfill this requirement with an institutional ethics committee.  Ethics committees vary widely in makeup, responsibilities, and level of knowledge.  They are usually multidisciplinary, commonly including representatives from the medical profession, the clergy, and the lay public.  Some have trained bioethicists serving on or as consultants to the committee.

Institutional policies vary on whether the ethics committee recommendations on cases referred to them are binding or non-binding on referring clinicians.   It is common for the Ethics Committee involvement to be consultative on such cases with their contribution one of deliberation, not decision-making.  



The purpose of a hospital ethics consultation is to:


The most common responsibilities of ethics committees are to:



The Ethics Consultation Meeting often includes the following:


There is also great variation among Ethics Committees regarding the following: