(1) Each hospital is required to have some kind of ethics service (a mechanism in place to address difficult ethical decisions and disagreements in health care as required by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospitals (http://www.jointcommission.org/ ))
(2) Hospital ethics committees are most often comprised of doctors, nurses, social workers, and other hospital staff – with only a couple community members to provide the “outside” voice of the community.
(3) Hospital ethics committees can sometimes lack broad representation from the diverse communities they serve,
(4) the cultural, religious, and moral values of local community members may not be adequately or comprehensively represented.
(5) As national health care policy discussions unfold and intensify, the need for inclusive ethics policies becomes increasingly relevant.
The Bottom Line: hospital ethics committees should have a direct line of communication with the community they serve!
Our Solution: In Boston, Harvard Medical School’s Division of Medical Ethics is piloting an innovative approach to broadening community representation and bridging the communications gap between health care practitioners and communities: a Community Ethics Committee (CEC).
Read more about it in the blog post (below) that describes our abstract to the ASBH conference.
Read more about Medical Ethics at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_ethics
Read more about Ethics Committees: http://www.uoflhealthcare.org/Default.aspx?tabid=526