Bioethicists are not "moral experts" but persons who have some moral expertise. Bioethicists are professionals from a range of backgrounds (philosophy, law, religion, medicine, nursing, sociology, social work, education, etc.) who help healthcare providers "do the right thing" by looking at tough situations in medicine from various angles and perspectives, and then providing some guidance for all involved. Most university teaching hospitals have bioethicists on staff for private consults, as well as holding regular hospital ethics committee meetings to discuss hospital policy and cases. You may request a consultation with a bioethicist to help you make decisions about your care, or help to explain your options.
A bioethics “consult” request simply means that you request to meet with a bioethicist. The bioethicist will usually meet with you alone or, if you prefer, with your family members, friends, or any other support person present.
Ethical issues frequently arise between colleagues or co-workers in the clinical setting.
Disagreement over treatment plans, communication problems, power relations, or simply cultural or gender differences, can interfere with a health care provider’s ability to properly do his or her job, or care for a patient.
Bioethicists are available to help resolve professional ethics issues that directly impact a health care provider ’s ability to perform in the clinical setting.
Health care providers in distress, for any reason, are encouraged to request an ethics consult before problems escalate.
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