Whether ethics is too important to be left to the experts or so important that it must be is an age-old question. The emergence of clinical ethicists raises it again, as a question about professionalism. What role clinical ethicists should play in healthcare decision making – teacher, mediator, or consultant – is a question that has generated considerable debate but no consensus.
Although the incidence and composition of HECs has been well characterized, little is known about how HECs assess their performance. In order to describe the incidence of HEC self-evaluation, the methods HECs use to evaluate their performance, and the characteristics of HECs that influence self-evaluation, we surveyed the readers ofHospital Ethics. 290 HECs in 45 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and three Canadian provinces, completed questionnaires. Of the 241 HECs included in the data analysis, 97.9% had performed (...) some self-evaluation. Responding committees largely made formative rather than summative evaluations and appeared to evaluate performance in light of their own objectives rather than basing assessments on specific structural, process, and outcome measures of quality. Responding committees used certain evaluation criteria more extensively than others — among these, the number of participants and staff knowledge of the service provided — with the choice of criteria differing with the function being evaluated. Eight characteristics of HECs influenced the probability of self-evaluation, including age, number of beds and meetings, the existence of a mission statement, and a budget. The presence of certain characteristics made HECs six times more likely to evaluate their performance than HECs without the characteristic. (shrink)
Hospital ethics committees have become widespread over the last 25 years, stimulated by the Quinlan decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court, the report of a President's Commission, and most recently by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations , which now man dates that each hospital seeking accreditation have a functioning process for the consideration of ethical issues in patient care. Laws and regulations in several states require that hospitals establish ethics committees, and some states stipulate that (...) certain types of cases and disputes be taken to such committees. At least one state grants legal immunity to those who implement recommendations of an ethics committee. (shrink)
As the potential for the first human trials of somatic cell gene therapy nears, two ethical issues are examined: (1) problems of moral choice for members of institutional review boards who consider the first protocols, for parents, and for the clinical researchers, and the special protections that may be required for the infants and children to be involved, and (2) ethical objections to somatic cell therapy made by those concerned about a putative inevitable progression of genetic knowledge from therapy to (...) mass genetic engineering in human reproduction. The author's viewpoint is that a consensus exists on the required moral approach to somatic cell therapy, but that no moral approach yet exists for experiments beyond this level, especially in the germline cells of human beings. Keywords: gene therapy, somatic cells, germ cells, institutional review boards, genetic engineering CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
We surveyed the approaches of 661 geneticists in 18 nations to 14 clinical cases and asked them to give their ethical reasons for choosing these approaches. Patient autonomy was the dominant value in clinical decision-making, with 59% of responses, followed by non-maleficence (20%), beneficence (11%) and justice (5%). In all, 39% described the consequences of their actions, 26% mentioned conflicts of interest between different parties and 72% placed patient welfare above the welfare of others. The U.S., Canada, Sweden, and U.K. (...) led in responses favoring autonomy. There were substantial international differences in moral reasoning. Gender differences in responses reflected women's greater attention to relationships and supported feminist ethical theories. (shrink)