Ethics at Emanuel Medical Center

A Commitment and a Committee

What is Ethics?

Ethics in health care at Emanuel Medical Center means doing the right thing for the patient. The right thing for the patient means providing care and treatment that provide medical benefits, that reflects what’s important to the patient’s well-being and that is what the patient wants.

The “right thing” is not always easy to determine. Sometimes doctors, patients, and family members are uncertain about what to do. Sometimes there may be differences of opinion about what’s best. So ethics sometimes means figuring out what’s best, trying to work out a plan of action that is focused on the patient’s well-being and wishes, is respectful of the concerns of the patient’s family and professional caregivers—and reflects a consensus about how to proceed. So ethics can mean “helping with decision-making.”

What is the Ethics Committee?

The Ethics Committee at Emanuel Medical Center is a group of medical and other hospital staff who meet regularly to suggest ways of continually improving the ethical quality of care for patients. The Committee also assists decision-makers in coming to an agreement about what to do when “the right answers” aren’t available or when there is some difference of opinion.

Who Serves On the Ethics Committee?

Physicians, nurses, therapists, chaplains, social workers, administrators, ethics consultant, respiratory care and nutritional support staff, representatives from the community, a professional medical ethics consultant.

What Does the Ethics Committee Do?

Members of the Ethics Committee are available, free of charge, to provide information, support and assistance with difficult decisions. The committee is active in four areas: (1) Educational programs in ethics for doctors, nurses, patients, families, and the community; (2) Developing policies that clarify and encourage ethical practice and patient care; (3) Forums for solving ethical problems in individual cases; and (4) Quality improvement projects to improve our “system’s” effectiveness in serving patient’s well-being and wishes and in responding to the health needs of our community.

Who Can Ask the Ethics Committee for Assistance?

Patients, families, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, and anyone personally involved in a case.

How Do Patients, Families, and Staff Request Assistance from the Ethics Committee?

Patients and families can ask their doctor, their nurse, the social worker, the chaplain or any other hospital staff member on any patient care unit in the hospital--who will then contact a member of the Ethics Committee’s Resource Team.

Does the Ethics Committee Have any General Advice for Patients and Families?

Think about what’s important to you in your life and health care, and find ways to talk with your family members and your doctors about what’s most important to you in your life and health care. Ask questions of your doctor if you need more information, or if you are confused about some aspect of your condition or treatment.