Author(s): Youngner SJ, Jackson DL, Coulton C, Juknialis BW, Smith EM
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Abstract A telephone survey of 602 randomly selected hospitals was conducted to identify existing ethics committees, i.e., those with the potential to become involved in the decision-making process in specific cases. Using the number of acute care beds as the criterion, hospitals were divided into 2 groups: (1) over 200 beds; n = 400; (2) 200 or fewer beds; n = 202. Chairpersons of identified committees completed detailed questionnaires. Seventeen committees were found--approximately 1\% of all U.S. hospitals. A typical committee included physicians, clergymen, and other professionals. Almost all committees were advisory, not decision-making bodies, and considered very effective by their chairpersons. Ethics committees have not, however, solved current medical ethical problems; nor have they allayed the concerns of patients' rights advocates about patient representation and control. Further study is warranted.
This article was published in Crit Care Med
and referenced in Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine