‘I just love these sessions’. Should physician satisfaction matter in clinical ethics consultations?

Clinical Ethics 7 (3):116-121 (2012)
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Clinical ethics committees aim to resolve conflict, facilitate communication and ease moral distress in health care. Dialogue in committee discussions is complex and involves a balance between implicitly and explicitly expressed values of patients, families and professionals. Evaluating effectiveness and concrete outcomes is challenging and most studies focus on broad benefits such as quality of care and reduction of unnecessary or unwanted treatments. In this paper we propose ‘physician satisfaction’ as a valuable outcome. We refer to the clinical ethics approach followed at one large paediatric hospital in Australia, propose reasons for the often-expressed feeling of satisfaction and discuss why this feeling matters. We conclude that physician satisfaction is a valid measure of an effective ethics consultation because it implies the person has been listened to and respected by others, and has perhaps developed greater understanding of and insights into their own work and values, and those of others.



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