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Ethics committee

Ethics committee

Ethics committee

What is a medical ethics committee?

Many concerns can be resolved as the patient, family and health care team work together. However, sometimes it may be helpful to discuss certain questions with another group of professionals. Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia has a group of such individuals who are available to provide support as crucial decisions about patient care are made.

Who are the members of the medical ethics committee?

Medical ethics committee members could include, but are not limited to, doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, psychologists, members of the clergy, nutritionists, researchers, community members, non-hospital ethics experts and pharmacists. Members of the committee have a broad knowledge of ethics and have experience helping patients, families and members of the health care team make difficult decisions.

What is an ethical issue?

The patient, family members and the health care team work together to make decisions regarding a child’s treatment plan. Sometimes however, the decision process is more difficult. Examples of difficult ethical issues may include:

  • Family and/or the health care team members disagree about the best thing to do for the child
  • A treatment plan conflicts with the cultural or spiritual beliefs of the patient/family/health care team member
  • A minor child is refusing to have a surgical procedure, which is clearly recommended by the health care team and caregivers

What is the role of the medical ethics committee?

The medical ethics committee offers an opportunity to discuss the difficult questions that must be addressed regarding patient care and makes recommendations. However, the final responsibility for decisions about patient care belongs to the patient, family and health care team.