The Role of Ethics Committees in End-of-Life Care
In order to understand the role of the ethics committee in end-of-life (EOL) care, one needs to understand where they came from and what and who they are and are not.1 Ethics committees came about as the result of a history of scarce resources such as transplants and dialysis, suggestions or mandates from the court, such as in the Quinlan case, state or national regulations, and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). The President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine also recommended the formation of Ethics Committees.2 Outside of the United States, they may have very different history and responsibilities and may have, as they do in the United States, very different capabilities and responsibilities. They may serve many purposes. It is important to understand what they are not. They are not the medical morals committee, the institutional review board that reviews research, or the “Baby Doe” committee (the committee that makes decisions about impaired infants).
KeywordsConflict Resolution Ethic Consultation Ethic Consultant Ethic Consultation Service United Hospital Fund
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