This paper focuses on the topic of evaluation of clinical ethics consultation. The concept of evaluation seems to contain an internal tension: On the one hand, evaluation is seen as distorting the conceptual and normative content of the case under scrutiny and, on the other, the evaluative act is the most important use of judgment and an inescapable part of everyday life. As such, we maintain that evaluation is essential.
In this paper we assume that ‘theory’ is important for Clinical Ethics Support Services (CESS). We will argue that the underlying implicit theory should be reflected. Moreover, we suggest that the theoretical components on which any clinical ethics support (CES) relies should be explicitly articulated in order to enhance the quality of CES.A theoretical framework appropriate for CES will be necessarily complex and should include ethical (both descriptive and normative), metaethical and organizational components. The various forms of CES that exist (...) in North-America and in Europe show their underlying theory more or less explicitly, with most of them referring to some kind of theoretical components including ‘how-to’ questions (methodology), organizational issues (implementation), problem analysis (phenomenology or typology of problems), and related ethical issues such as end-of-life decisions (major ethical topics).In order to illustrate and explain the theoretical framework that we are suggesting for our own CES project METAP, we will outline this project which has been established in a multi-centre context in several healthcare institutions. We conceptualize three ‘pillars’ as the major components of our theoretical framework: (1) evidence, (2) competence, and (3) discourse. As a whole, the framework is aimed at developing a foundation of our CES project METAP.We conclude that this specific integration of theoretical components is a promising model for the fruitful further development of CES. (shrink)
Clinical ethics consultation not only interprets moral issues at the bedside and is not restricted to giving support for the “technical” handling of these moral issues, but it has to substantively address moral values, norms, and conflicts in the process of discussing cases and problems. We call this the normative dimension and use normative in the sense of embracing moral values and convictions of persons and groups, norms, and relevant professional and ethical guidelines as well as legal frameworks. The roles (...) and activities of the consultant as a person and the quality of CEC as a process are discussed in the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities’ Core Competences for Healthcare Ethics Consultation. (shrink)
The debate and implementation of Clinical Ethics Consultation is still in its beginnings in Europe and the issue of the patient's perspective has been neglected so far, especially at the theoretical and methodological level. At the practical level, recommendations about the involvement of the patient or his/her relatives are missing, reflecting the general lack of quality and practice standards in CEC. Balance of perspectives is a challenge in any interpersonal consultation, which has led to great efforts to develop “technical”approaches, e.g., (...) in psychological counseling or psychotherapeutic treatment. In ethics, unbalance or partiality is a matter of justice and has provoked significant theoretical work, also relevant for practical medical ethics. A lack of balance seems to be particularly serious in those situations, where ethical conflict is triggering a consultation and where the “parties” involved may try to persuade the consultant that their particular opinion is the most convincing; but to our knowledge the connection between patient/relatives involvement and balance has not yet been discussed in the context of CEC. Central questions of access and involvement of the patient and his/her relatives will be analysed and discussed regarding the challenge of balance and the adequate role or attitude of a Clinical Ethics Consultant. It is argued that the Clinical Ethics Consultant should have a methodological awareness regarding the concepts of “neutrality” versus “advocacy” in his/her role and try to achieve a balanced procedure that allows for an optimum of change of perspectives. The argumentation is developed along the narrative of a real case study. Recommendations concerning the involvement of the patient or the relatives are formulated for the practice of CEC. (shrink)
Research questions and backgroundThis study explores a highly controversial issue of medical care in Germany: the decision to withhold or withdraw mechanical ventilation in critically ill patients. It analyzes difficulties in making these decisions and the physicians’ uncertainty in understanding the German terminology of Sterbehilfe, which is used in the context of treatment limitation. Used in everyday language, the word Sterbehilfe carries connotations such as helping the patient in the dying process or helping the patient to enter the dying process. (...) Yet, in the legal and ethical discourse Sterbehilfe indicates several concepts: (1) treatment limitation, i.e., withholding or withdrawing life-sustaining treatment (passive Sterbehilfe), (2) the use of medication for symptom control while taking into account the risk of hastening the patient’s death (indirekte Sterbehilfe), and (3) measures to deliberately terminate the patient’s life (aktive Sterbehilfe). The terminology of Sterbehilfe has been criticized for being too complex and misleading, particularly for practical purposes. Materials and methods An exploratory study based on qualitative interviews was conducted with 28 physicians from nine medical intensive care units in tertiary care hospitals in the German federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The method of data collection was a problem-centered, semi-structured interview using two authentic clinical case examples. In order to shed light on the relation between the physicians’ concepts and the ethical and legal frames of reference, we analyzed their way of using the terms passive and aktive Sterbehilfe. Results Generally, the physicians were more hesitant in making decisions to withdraw rather than withhold mechanical ventilation. Almost half of them assumed a categorical prohibition to withdraw any mechanical ventilation and more than one third felt that treatment ought not to be withdrawn at all. Physicians showed specific uncertainty about classifying the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation as passive Sterbehilfe, and had difficulties understanding that terminating ventilation is not basically illegal, but the permissibility of withdrawal depends on the situation. Conclusions The physicians’ knowledge and skills in interpreting clinical ethical dilemmas require specific improvement on the one hand; on the other hand, the terms passive and aktive Sterbehilfe are less clear than desirable and not as easy to use in clinical practice. Fear of making unjustified or illegal decisions may motivate physicians to continue (even futile) treatment. Physicians strongly opt for more open discussion about end-of-life care to allow for discontinuation of futile treatment and to reduce conflict. (shrink)
What is the status of empirical contributions to bioethics, especially to clinical bioethics? Where is the empirical approach discussed in bioethics related to the ongoing debate about principlism versus casuistry? Can we consider an integrative model of research in medical ethics and which empirical methodology could then be valuable, the quantitative or the qualitative? These issues will be addressed in the first, theoretical part of the paper. The concept of the “embedded researcher” presented in this article was stimulated by the (...) two questions, (1) how can we safeguard that our research will yield valid and meaningful results to practice? and (2), how can we convince clinical colleagues that medical ethics offers relevant contributions to the analysis and solution of problems? One tentative answer has been our effort to elaborate a coherent methodological research approach in the field of end-of-life issues integrating qualitative and quantitative as well as casuistic methodologies. This development is characterized in the second part describing the ECOPE Study (short title)“Ethical Conditions Of Passive Euthanasia.” The achievements and limitations of the suggested approach of the “embedded researcher” are discussed referring to 3 examples of our joint studies about ethical issues concerning(1) critical decision-making in neonatology(2) limitation of treatment in intensive care(3) problems with doctor-patient conversation at the end of life in oncologyConclusions from our studies are put to discussion in the final part of the paper about how to further develop research in the field of end-of-life care and, maybe,clinical bioethics as a whole. (shrink)
Clinical ethics support services are developing in Europe. They will be most useful if they are designed to match the ethical concerns of clinicians. We conducted a cross-sectional mailed survey on random samples of general physicians in Norway, Switzerland, Italy, and the UK, to assess their access to different types of ethics support services, and to describe what makes them more likely to have used available ethics support. Respondents reported access to formal ethics support services such as clinical ethics committees (...) (23%), consultation in individual cases (17.6%), and individual ethicists (8.8%), but also to other kinds of less formal ethics support (23.6%). Access to formal ethics support services was associated with work in urban hospitals. Informal ethics resources were more evenly distributed. Although most respondents (81%) reported that they would find help useful in facing ethical difficulties, they reported having used the available services infrequently (14%). Physicians with greater confidence in their knowledge of ethics (P = 0.001), or who had had ethics courses in medical school (P = 0.006), were more likely to have used available services. Access to help in facing ethical difficulties among general physicians in the surveyed countries is provided by a mix of official ethics support services and other resources. Developing ethics support services may benefit from integration of informal services. Development of ethics education in medical school curricula could lead to improved physicians sensititity to ethical difficulties and greater use of ethics support services. Such support services may also need to be more proactive in making their help available. (shrink)
Clinical ethics consultation has developed from local pioneer projects into a field of growing interest among both clinicians and ethicists. What is needed are more systematic studies on the ethical challenges faced in clinical practice and problem solving through ethics consultation from interdisciplinary perspectives. The Thematic Issue covers a range of topics and includes five recent studies from various European countries and the USA, focusing on issues such as the ethical difficulties of end of life decisions, experiences with newly developed (...) or well established ethics consultation services, and the expectations of physicians in various clinical fields who are still unfamiliar with clinical ethics consultation. The papers included illustrate the interface between different socio-cultural contexts and their ways of dealing with clinical ethics consultation. They deepen the dialogue on clinical ethics consultation that has emerged at the European and International level. (shrink)
Ethische Leitlinien für die klinische Praxis erfreuen sich zunehmender Beliebtheit. Damit klinisch-ethische Leitlinien aber überhaupt erfolgreich wirksam werden können, ist noch Pionierarbeit zu leisten. Solche Leitlinien müssen wissenschaftlich stärker fundiert und ihre praktische Anwendbarkeit muss verbessert werden. In dieser Arbeit werden die ersten Schritte des Projekts METAP zur methodischen Entwicklung und praktischen Implementierung einer Leitlinie für eine patientengerechte Versorgung am Krankenbett beschrieben und zur Diskussion gestellt. Das Projekt orientiert sich methodisch an der Entwicklung medizinischer Leitlinien und generiert damit eine forschungs- (...) und konsensgestützte Leitlinie, die systematischer Evaluation und Modifikation unterliegt und Rechenschaft über ihre wissenschaftliche Fundierung gibt. Zusätzlich zur Leitlinie bietet das Projekt in der Form eines Handbuchs ein Entscheidungsfindungsverfahren an, welches unter anderem deliberative Aspekte unterstützt. Das Handbuch konzentriert sich auf ethische Fragen der Mikroallokation und liefert darüber hinaus Informationen über empirische, ethische und rechtliche Grundlagen für Therapieentscheidungen. Anhand eines Eskalationsmodells können unterschiedliche Instrumente nach Bedarf als ethische Lösungsstrategien eingesetzt werden, von der Kurzfassung im Kitteltaschenformat („Leporello“) mit den wichtigsten Fakten, weiterführenden Texten und Empfehlungen mit normativen und prozeduralen Hinweisen, über stationsinterne Lösungsversuche bis hin zum Ethikkonsil. Klinische Partner sind von Beginn an aktiv in den Entwicklungsprozess eingebunden und verbessern so die Praxistauglichkeit und Akzeptanz sowie die Ausrichtung des Instrumentariums an den tatsächlichen Bedürfnissen. Dieses partnerschaftliche, partizipative Vorgehen scheint eine wichtige Voraussetzung dafür zu sein, dass METAP in der Klinik Fuß fassen konnte. (shrink)
Clinical ethics committees (CECs) have been developing in many countries since the 1980s, more recently in the transitional countries in Eastern Europe. With their increasing profile they are now faced with a range of questions and challenges regarding their position within the health care organizations in which they are situated: Should CECs be independent bodies with a critical role towards institutional management, or should they be an integral part of the hospital organization? In this paper, we discuss the organizational context (...) in which CECs function in Europe focusing on five aspects. We conclude that in Europe clinical ethics committees need to maintain a critical independence while generating acceptance of the CEC and its potential benefit to both individuals and the organization. CECs, perhaps particularly in transitional countries, must counter the charge of “alibi ethics”. CECs must define their contribution to in-house quality management in their respective health care organization, clarifying how ethical reflection on various levels serves the hospital and patient care in general. This last challenge is made more difficult by lack of consensus about appropriate quality outcomes for CECs internationally. These are daunting challenges, but the fact that CECs continue to develop suggests that we should make the effort to overcome them. We believe there is a need for further research that specifically addresses some of the institutional challenges facing CECs. (shrink)
Dealing with errors in psychotherapy is challenging, both ethically and practically. There is almost no empirical research on this topic. We aimed (1) to explore psychotherapists’ self-reported ways of dealing with an error made by themselves or by colleagues, and (2) to reconstruct their reasoning according to the two principle-based ethical approaches that are dominant in the ethics discourse of psychotherapy, Beauchamp & Childress (B&C) and Lindsay et al. (L).
‘DU bist Radio’ (DBR) is an award winning [DBR has been awarded with the “Catholic Media Award of the German Bishops Conference, Prädikat WERTvoll” (2011), the Suisse “Media Prize Aargau/Solothurn” (2010), the German “Alternative Media Award” (2009) and was nominated for the “Prix Europa” (2009)] monthly radio format that goes on air on three Swiss radio stations. The purpose of this program which was first broadcast in 2009 is the development of a new media format which—without applying any journalistic (or (...) other) filter and influence—conveys authenticity of expression amongst society’s most vulnerable fellow citizens such as patients, clients and the socially deprived. So-called marginal groups are encouraged to speak for themselves, as a possible paradigm case for encouraging the inclusion of patients’ and relatives’ “unfiltered” voices in general and in clinical ethics as well. Before handing over the microphone to the groups in focus, a team of journalists, educated in medical ethics, over a period of 4 days, teaches them on-site radio skills and craft. Once this task is completed and the actual production of the broadcast begins, the media crew does not exert any influence whatsoever on the content of the 1-h program. Thus, the final product is solely created and accounted for by the media-inexperienced participants, leading to unforeseen and often surprising results. It is discussed that the DBR approach of fostering authenticity of expression can serve as an enhancement to today’s respect and autonomy oriented field of medical ethics. (shrink)
When ethical decisions have to be taken in critical, complex medical situations, they often involve decisions that set the course for or against life-sustaining treatments. Therefore the decisions have far-reaching consequences for the patients, their relatives, and often for the clinical staff. Although the rich psychology literature provides evidence that reasoning may be affected by undesired influences that may undermine the quality of the decision outcome, not much attention has been given to this phenomenon in health care or ethics consultation. (...) In this paper, we aim to contribute to the sensitization of the problem of systematic reasoning biases by showing how exemplary individual and group biases can affect the quality of decision-making on an individual and group level. We are addressing clinical ethicists as well as clinicians who guide complex decision-making processes of ethical significance. Knowledge regarding exemplary group psychological biases (e.g. conformity bias), and individual biases (e.g. stereotypes), will be taken from the disciplines of social psychology and cognitive decision science and considered in the field of ethical decision-making. Finally we discuss the influence of intuitive versus analytical (systematical) reasoning on the validity of ethical decision-making. (shrink)
Definition of the problem: Ethics consultation is one of the most important ways in which clinical ethicists can support both health-care providers and patients and their relatives in coping with ethical and existential challenges. The practice of ethics consultation, as performed at the Freiburg University Hospital is described and illustrated by a case report about the problem of treatment termination. The range of subject matters that come up in ethics consultations is analyzed. A research program in clinical ethics is summarized (...) that has been undertaken to pave the way for a specific and interdisciplinary analysis of needs; from there on, the investigation aims at further developing clinical ethics support services. Suggestions for criteria of competence for ethics consultants are formulated on the basis of both the author’s and international work. Finally, the issues of structural conditions for establishing clinical ethics in the German-speaking world are raised and the long-term prospect of ethics consultation as an instrument for learning and teaching ethics in the health-care system is highlighted. (shrink)
Die qualitative Interviewstudie analysiert informelle Wissensstrukturen von Pflegenden und Ärzten hinsichtlich der beiden Einflussfaktoren „Alter“ und „Kosten“ auf Therapieentscheide am Lebensende als Grundlage ethischer Meinungsbildung. Als Auswertungsmaterial dienen spontane Aussagen zu „Alter“ und „Kosten“, die nicht im Kontext von Fragestellungen zu Ageism oder Rationierung erhoben wurden. Diese Aussagen wurden einer Inhaltsanalyse unterzogen, und zwar anhand von qualitativen und quantitativen Analyseschritten.Die Studie zeigt, dass der Faktor „Alter“ wesentlich häufiger als Einflussfaktor auf Therapieentscheide am Lebensende genannt wird als der Faktor „Kosten“. Zudem (...) gibt es Hinweise auf mögliche Ungleichbehandlung sowie auf Überversorgung von Patienten am Lebensende. Die Befunde stützen die Annahme, dass Therapieentscheidungen eher auf informellen, nicht-institutionalisierten Prozessen beruhen. Eine stärker explizite Strukturierung des Prozesses zur Therapieentscheidung könnte die Risiken von Ungleichbehandlung und Überversorgung reduzieren und dadurch zu ethisch besser vertretbaren Ergebnisse führen. (shrink)
Definition of the problem: Doctor-patient-conversation is still a great challenge for doctors and patients despite intense discussion, legal normation, and multiple efforts. It seems to be particularly difficult in cases of telling the truth about diagnosis or prognosis which can be threatening to the patient.Method: It is shown by two case studies that the patient directs a specific need to the doctor which has been neglected in both the ethics discourse and in practical medicine: the need to evaluate the patient's (...) options for action at an argumentative-critical level. Derived from a general theory of language functions a model of doctor-patient-conversation is developed which allows for both ideal case typology as well as for problem analysis. Referring to a Three-Stages-Model of Doctor-Patient-Dialogue, an integrative model “Language and Relationship Between Doctor and Patient” is formulated which permits a better understanding of the processes and difficulties between doctor and patient.Conclusion: The integrative model presented may help to realize a more comprehensive doctor-patient-conversation. It may help as well to decide which of the components of this conversation may be selectively sufficient. Consequences for the conceptualization of the physician's role as well as the scope of the model in practice are discussed. (shrink)
BackgroundAs the implementation of new approaches and procedures of medical ethics is as complex and resource-consuming as in other fields, strategies and activities must be carefully planned to use the available means and funds responsibly. Which facilitators and barriers influence the implementation of a medical ethics decision-making model in daily routine? Up to now, there has been little examination of these factors in this field.MethodsA medical ethics decision-making model called METAP was introduced on three intensive care units and two geriatric (...) wards. An evaluation study was performed from 7 months after deployment of the project until two and a half years. Quantitative and qualitative methods including a questionnaire, semi-structured face-to-face and group-interviews were used.ResultsSixty-three participants from different professional groups took part in 33 face-to-face and 9 group interviews, and 122 questionnaires could be analysed. The facilitating factors most frequently mentioned were: acceptance and presence of the model, support given by the medical and nursing management, an existing or developing ethics culture, perception of a need for a medical ethics decision-making model, and engaged staff members. Lack of presence and acceptance, insufficient time resources and staff, poor inter-professional collaboration, absence of ethical competence, and not recognizing ethical problems were identified as inhibiting the implementation of the METAP model. However, the results of the questionnaire as well as of explicit inquiry showed that the respondents stated to have had enough time and staff available to use METAP if necessary.ConclusionsFacilitators and barriers of the implementation of a medical ethics decision-making model are quite similar to that of medical guidelines. The planning for implementing an ethics model or guideline can, therefore, benefit from the extensive literature and experience concerning the implementation of medical guidelines. Lack of time and staff can be overcome when people are convinced that the benefits justify the effort. (shrink)
As the implementation of new approaches and procedures of medical ethics is as complex and resource-consuming as in other fields, strategies and activities must be carefully planned to use the available means and funds responsibly. Which facilitators and barriers influence the implementation of a medical ethics decision-making model in daily routine? Up to now, there has been little examination of these factors in this field. A medical ethics decision-making model called METAP was introduced on three intensive care units and two (...) geriatric wards. An evaluation study was performed from 7 months after deployment of the project until two and a half years. Quantitative and qualitative methods including a questionnaire, semi-structured face-to-face and group-interviews were used. Sixty-three participants from different professional groups took part in 33 face-to-face and 9 group interviews, and 122 questionnaires could be analysed. The facilitating factors most frequently mentioned were: acceptance and presence of the model, support given by the medical and nursing management, an existing or developing ethics culture, perception of a need for a medical ethics decision-making model, and engaged staff members. Lack of presence and acceptance, insufficient time resources and staff, poor inter-professional collaboration, absence of ethical competence, and not recognizing ethical problems were identified as inhibiting the implementation of the METAP model. However, the results of the questionnaire as well as of explicit inquiry showed that the respondents stated to have had enough time and staff available to use METAP if necessary. Facilitators and barriers of the implementation of a medical ethics decision-making model are quite similar to that of medical guidelines. The planning for implementing an ethics model or guideline can, therefore, benefit from the extensive literature and experience concerning the implementation of medical guidelines. Lack of time and staff can be overcome when people are convinced that the benefits justify the effort. (shrink)
Behandlungsfehler in der Psychotherapie sind bisher kaum erforscht. Eine empirisch gestützte Kategorisierung von Behandlungsfehlern stellt einen ersten Schritt dar, sich evidenzbasierten ethischen Empfehlungen zum Umgang mit solchen Fehlern zu nähern. Zielsetzung dieser Arbeit ist es, dafür erste Grundlagen zu erarbeiten, die auf Erfahrungen von Praktikern Bezug nehmen. Nach einer systematischen Literaturrecherche wurden 30 semistrukturierte Interviews mit approbierten Psychotherapeuten unterschiedlicher Ausrichtungen (Schulen) geführt und anhand der qualitativen Inhaltsanalyse nach Mayring ausgewertet. Die beschriebenen, alltäglich auftretenden Behandlungsfehler konnten in technische, normative, Einschätzungs- und (...) Systemfehler klassifiziert werden. Viele der technischen und Einschätzungsfehler wurden als reversibel angesehen; sie könnten sogar konstruktiv für die Behandlung nutzbar gemacht werden. Das Versäumnis, einen Fehler zu korrigieren, wurde als Hauptfehler betrachtet. Bei normativen Fehlern sei mit rechtlichen oder berufspolitischen Konsequenzen, aber auch mit Vertrauensverlust und Therapieabbruch zu rechnen. Für Systemfehler fühlten sich die befragten Therapeuten nicht verantwortlich; hier seien berufspolitische Änderungen nötig. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass die Befragten zu der Empfehlung tendieren, Psychotherapiepatienten in passender Form über Behandlungsfehler aufzuklären und in die entstehenden Konsequenzen einzubeziehen. Fazit: Psychotherapeuten äußern sich aufgeschlossen gegenüber einer transparenten, konstruktiven Fehlerkultur – eine wesentliche Voraussetzung für Fehlerprävention. Häufig resultiert erst durch die fehlende Korrektur eines (alltäglichen) Fehlers ein Behandlungsfehler, der Konsequenzen hat (z. B. Scheitern der Therapie). Um diesem entgegenzuwirken, zeichnet sich eine Befürwortung für eine passende Form der Patientenaufklärung über Fehler ab. (shrink)
Wie muss ein ethischer Beratungsdienst strukturiert sein, damit er in moralischen Konfliktsituationen im klinischen Alltag angefragt wird und die Ratsuchenden ergebnisorientiert unterstützen kann? Nach welchen Kriterien lassen sich die Beratungsgespräche auswerten und bewerten? Zur Beantwortung dieser Fragen werden theoretisch fundierte Konzepte ethischer Fallbesprechung aus Nimwegen, Leuven und Basel herangezogen; dies geschieht vor dem Hintergrund der Erfahrungen mit der über zehnjährigen Entwicklung der ethischen Arbeit im Ev. Krankenhaus Bielefeld (EvKB). Als Resultat stellen wir einen strukturierten, multidisziplinären Ansatz vor, mit dem in (...) den Beratungsgesprächen die ethischen Dimensionen unterschiedlicher Vorstellungen herausgearbeitet und möglichst einvernehmlichen Lösungen zugeführt werden. Am Beispiel des EvKB lässt sich zeigen, dass der ethische Beratungsdienst auch in Zeiten knapper Ressourcen implementiert und praktiziert werden kann und eine Gesprächskultur schafft, die zu neuen Zielvariablen führt; hier spielen der Perspektivenwechsel und die Prozessgerechtigkeit eine zentrale Rolle und liefern zugleich Ansatzpunkte für unsere eigene Evaluationsstrategie. Zum aktuellen Stand der Evaluation klinischer Ethikberatung wird die internationale Literatur kritisch gewürdigt. Erste konzeptionelle Ansätze und Ergebnisse einer eigenen Evaluationsstrategie werden vorgestellt. Durch die Offenlegung hoffen wir, die Auseinandersetzung mit diesen Themen zu intensivieren. (shrink)
Overtreatment is when medical or dental services are provided with a higher volume or cost than is appropriate. This study aimed to investigate how a group of dentists in Switzerland, a wealthy country known to have high standards of healthcare including dentistry, evaluated the meaning of unnecessary treatments from an ethical perspective and, assessed the expected frequency of different possible behaviors among their peers.
Ethics consultation is the most engaged aspect of clinical ethics, a field focused on ethical issues, questions, and conflicts arising in the course of patient care and delivery of healthcare services. Despite the skepticism of some academic bioethicists and criticism expressed by social commentators, clinical ethics, which began in North America, has expanded to Europe and many other parts of the world with the proliferation of healthcare institution ethics and ethics consultation support services. Along with the development and implementation of (...) ethics policies and guidelines for patient care through work on hospital ethics committees, clinical ethicists are increasingly involved in the ethics of healthcare organizational structures and processes and the day to day provision of ethics consultative services to health professionals, patients, and families. (shrink)
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. (shrink)