REQUEST AN ETHICS CONSULTATION
Contact Information to Request an Ethics Consultation at Loyola Medicine
Loyola University Medical Center - Gottlieb Memorial Hospital - MacNeal Hospital
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Ethics Consultation Services?
Loyola Medicine recognizes that ethical issues can arise in healthcare. The Ethics Consultation Service and Ethics Committee support patients, families and caregivers as they work together to find solutions to these difficult issues.
Who can request an ethics consultation?
If an ethics question arises, anyone directly involved in the patient's care - including family members, friends, staff or the patient him/herself - may request an ethics consultation. An ethics consultant will respond usually within 24 hours (or less).
What is the purpose of an ethics consultation?
An ethics consultation assists patients, families, health professionals and other staff to reach a consensus on the patient's plan of care that is consistent with the patient's values, organizational ethics and good medicine.
Why would someone request an ethics consultation?
- A family member may be struggling with decisions about the plan of care, wondering if what they are deciding is ethical or "right" for the patient.
- There may be confusion about what has been stated in a Living Will or A Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and how it affects the plan of care.
- The appropriate person to make decisions for a patient who lacks decision-making capacity may not be clear or there may be disagreement among the decision makers.
- A physician may want support from the ethics committee in making recommendations to the patient or family.
- A nurse may observe confusion about the plan of care for the patient and want to help in drawing together the parties involved to arrive at a consensus.
What happens during an ethics consultation?
The ethics consultant assists patients, physicians, nurses, family members and others involved in the patient's care in assessing the personal values and wishes of the patient.
- The consultant helps those involved step back and assess the realistic outcomes of the patient's illness and treatments being considered.
- The consultant facilitates a discussion of the "next steps" in the patient's plan of care.
- The consultant helps those involved evaluate the ethical issues and options.
How do I ask for an ethics consultation and what happens when I do?
- Requests for an ethics consultation from a patient or their appropriate decision maker may be made to any member of the healthcare team caring for the patient. A member of the healthcare team will then contact the Ethics Consultation Service and one of the on-call clinical ethicists will contact the person placing the request.
- The ethics consultant will contact the relevant parties and asses the situation with those involved.
- If appropriate, the ethics consultant will facilitate a discussion among the people involved to help clarify values and reach consensus on an ethical plan of care.
Levels of Ethics Support: What if someone has a question for an ethics consultant?
Anyone may call the ethics consult line to request help. An ethics consultant will respond usually within 24 hours (or less) and can offer different levels of support.
- Informal consultation - the ethics consultant resopnds to the request for a consultation, usually by telephone, and answers questions about the case.
- Family meeting - the ethics consultant may be asked to attend a family meeting and offer input on the ethical issues and concerns as part of the team.
- Formal consultaton - the ethics consultant facilitates a consultation with all the relevant parties regarding the ethical issues and decisions in the case with the aim of finding an appropriate consensus about the plan of care and ways forward.
The purpose of the Ethics Committee is to foster awareness of ethics principles and to provide a forum for the discussion of ethics questions as they arise. A group of Ethics Committee members also serve as on-call ethics consultants and are available to aid in working through challenging decisions faced by patients, famlies, caregivers and other staff. The Ethics Committee promotes these goals:
- To serve as a forum for discussion of ethical concerns
- To foster bioethics education for healthcare professionals and the community
- To assist in the formulation of hospital policy on bioethical issues
Questions of polcy or cases that raise new or novel issues may be referred to the Ethics Committee for analysis by Loyola Medicine medical staff, nursing staff or administration.