Clinical Ethics Consultations

The Clinical Ethics Consult Service supports direct patient care by offering intervention and support when uncertainty arises or competing ethical values are present. Matters that rise to an institutional level will be raised to the Hospital Ethics Committee. Our consultants are available to facilitate conversation as well as mediate conflict. 

The Program for Bioethics is responsible for directing and staffing the Clinical Ethics Consult Service, which reports to the UK HealthCare Ethics Committee.  Consultations can be requested by any health care provider, regardless of level, at UK clinical facilities, as well as patients and families. 

How to Request a Consult

Healthcare providers may order a Clinical Ethics Consult in Epic, or access the on-call Clinical Ethicist via Epic Secure Chat (Search for the “Bioethics” in the group tab.) 

Patients, families, and anyone without Epic access can reach the Clinical Ethics Consult service by calling 859-257-9474 and leaving a voicemail,or emailing Please be sure to leave a number or email address for us to respond to your request. 

The consultation service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have a rotating service, and a clinical ethics consultant is always on call. 

How the Process Works

  • Consults begin with a conversation with the caller to learn the details of the case and understand the ethical concern. From there, the best course of action is determined by the consultant.  

  • This may require meeting with the patient and/or their family, holding a multidisciplinary meeting, or speaking one-on-one with providers. Sometimes, ethics consults may lead to planned staff support after difficult cases.  

  • Most of the time, our involvement with a patient’s care is documented in the patient record, however, some consults may not be appropriate for chart documentation.  

  • Cases that involve institutional or systemic concerns will be raised to the UK HealthCare Ethics Committee. If appropriate, some cases will be suggested as teaching cases.