Ethics is defined in the Webster's dictionary as "a principle of right or good behaviour" and "a system of moral principles or values", the "study of the general nature of morals and the specific moral choices an individual makes in relating to others" and the "rules or standards of conduct governing the members of a profession".
What is an Ethical Dilemma?
Ethics is a system of moral principles or values. A dilemma occurs when one must choose between one of two or more unsatisfactory alternatives. Often times conflicts arise based on differences in values, difficulties in communication, or due to the severe stress of critical illness. An ethics consultation can be helpful in these situations.
Ethical issues may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Decision making and the professional/ patient/ resident relationship;
- Truth telling and disclosure of information;
- Privacy and confidentiality;
- Informed consent to treatment;
- Refusal of treatment;
- Foregoing life-sustaining treatment;
- Pain control;
- Family/ caregiver participation in medical decision making;
- Non-adherence to plan of care;
- Access to health care;
- Controlling the cost of health care; and
- Allocation and rationing of health care resources.
Why Have an Ethics Committee?
Health care decisions can be quite complex, and are sometimes difficult to make. Every person has the right to control the health care he or she receives, and you exercise this right my making your own decisions. If your wishes are not understood, or if those involved in your care disagree over what should be done, you or your family may need help. The MICs Ethics Committee is here to provide that help.
What can the Ethics Committee do?
The Ethics Committee is available to help identify, understand and resolve difficult healthcare ethics questions. The Ethics Committee is a consultative and advisory body and does not make decisions regarding a person's care or the organization's policies. The final decision about a health related issue lies with the patient (or legal representative) and the doctor involved.
The Ethics Committee can offer special expertise and experience in medical ethics. Whenever it gets involved, it does so with respect to patients' rights, family privacy, and the personal nature of health care decisions.
All consultations are confidential and are bound by the same policies and procedures as other patient and organizational records.
Who Are the Members of the Ethics Committee?
Membership consists of representatives of multiple disciplines including:
- Front-line workers
- Community Representatives
- Pastoral Representatives
- Palliative Care Team Member
- Other resource people as required
How will the Ethics Committee Help?
If an ethical issue arises MICs will bring together at least three members of the MICs Ethics Committee who have received additional training in ethics, along with external resources as required which may include members of existing Pastoral Care Committees, Ethics Committees members from larger area hospitals, and if necessary, an Ethicist.
Issues will be addressed utilizing the MICs Ethical Decision-Making
I - Identify the facts
D - Determine the ethical principles in conflict
E - Explore the options
A - Act on your decision and evaluate
S - Self-evaluate your decision
Recommendations of the MICs Ethics Committee will be reported to the MICs Chief Executive Officer for implementation or necessary follow-up as required.
How Can the Ethics Committee be Contacted?
Patients and Residents, their family members and/or caregivers may access the Ethics Committee for ethical consultations by contacting the Hospital's Administration Office during regular business hours or the Hospital reception after hours. The request for consultation will be referred to the ethics consult representative.
Written communications should be addressed to the Ethics Committee via the Hospital's Administration Office.