Recently, ethical guidelines for clinical practice have gained increased popularity, but in order to become useful they require more pioneer’s work. Clinical-ethical guidelines need to be based on a scientific foundation and their practicability must be improved. We present and put to discussion the initial steps of the METAP Project about the development and practical implementation of a clinical-ethical guideline dedicated to a fair resource-allocation at the bedside.
With its methodological orientation, the project represents a guideline which is based on both research and consensus-building, undergoing systematic evaluation and modification. In addition to the guideline, the project comes with a manual (a tool kit) including a procedural instrument for making decisions supporting deliberative aspects. It focuses on issues of micro-allocation; furthermore, it provides empirical, ethical and legal basics for making fair treatment decisions that should help to prevent overtreatment, undertreatment or discrimination in patient care. We propose an Escalation Model with various instruments serving as problem solving strategies that correspond to the respective needs; these instruments include a pocket-summary (“Leporello”) with the most important facts; further reading material; normative and procedural recommendations; ward-specific strategies, and also the option of clinical ethics consultation.
Clinical partners have been actively involved in the developmental process from the beginning and contributed to the practical applicability, acceptance and a valid need-orientation of the whole tool kit. This partnership and the participatory approach seem to have helped METAP to gain a foothold in the clinic.