What are Ethics?
Ethics in healthcare mean doing the right thing for the patient - providing care and treatment that deliver medical benefits, reflect what's important to the patient's well-being, and respect what the patient wants.
But it's not always easy to determine what "the right thing" is. Sometimes doctors, patients and family members are uncertain about what to do or disagree about what's best. Ethics give us a framework to help work through those uncertainties and develop a plan of action that is focused on the patient's well-being and wishes, and is respectful of the concerns of the patient's family and the patient's professional caregivers.
How are Ethics embraced at Emanuel?
Ethics guide everything we do at Emanuel and provide a framework for our patient-care policies and procedures. In addition, we have an active Ethics Committee to help our staff and patients through any difficult issues.
What is the Ethics Committee?
The Ethics Committee at Emanuel Medical Center is a group hospital staff and community members who meet regularly to continually improve the ethical quality of care for patients. When asked, the Committee also assists decision-makers in coming to an agreement about what to do when "the right thing" isn't clear or when there is some difference of opinion.
Who Serves on the Ethics Committee?
At Emanuel, the Ethics Committee includes physicians, nurses, therapists, chaplains, social workers, administrators, respiratory care and nutritional support staff, representatives from the community and a professional medical ethics consultant.
What does the Ethics Committee do?
Members of the Ethics Committee provide, free of charge, information, support and assistance with difficult decisions to patients, families, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, or anyone personally involved in a case. The committee is active in four areas:
- Educational programs in ethics for doctors, nurses, patients, families, and the community.
- Developing policies that clarify and encourage ethical practice and patient care.
- Forums for solving ethical problems in individual cases.
- Quality improvement projects to increase our effectiveness in serving patients' well-being and wishes and in responding to the health needs of our community.
How can I request assistance from the Ethics Committee?
Patients and families can ask their doctor, nurse, social worker, chaplain or any other hospital staff member to speak to the Ethics Committee and they will link you with a Committee member.
Does the Ethics Committee have any general advice for patients and families?
Think about what's important to you in your life and health care, and find ways to talk with your family members and your doctors about what's important to you. Ask your doctor questions if you need more information or if you are confused about some aspect of your condition or treatment.
This brochure provides a good overview of life-support treatments and issues, including informed consent; life-support machines, tubes and medications; life-support decisions in cases of severe brain injury, coma and permanent vegetative state; brain death; and comfort care.
Deciding About Life Support Treatments: Information Guide for Patients and Their Families
Las decisiones acerca de los tratamientos para prolongar la vida: Guía Informativa para los Pacientes y sus Familias