Author(s): La Puma J, Stocking CB, Darling CM, Siegler M
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Ethics consultants may improve patient care by responding to physician requests for assistance with problems they identify as ethical issues. OBJECTIVE: To examine three aspects of ethics consultation: the clinical questions asked; the helpfulness of the consultation to requesting physicians; and the differences between consultations performed at a community teaching hospital and those performed at a university hospital. SETTINGS: A community teaching hospital and a university teaching hospital. SUBJECTS: Physicians who formally requested ethics consultations in both hospitals and the patients for whom they requested them. METHODS: Over 2 years (January 1, 1988, to December 31, 1989), we prospectively evaluated a newly established clinical ethics consultation service in a community teaching hospital using confidentially completed, pretested, structured questionnaires, and compared our data with previously reported university hospital data. RESULTS: During the 2-year study, 104 consultation requests were received from 68 physicians in eight departments. Requesters most often requested consultation about deciding to forego life-sustaining treatment (74\%), resolving disagreements (46\%), and assessing patient competence (30\%). Requesters found the consultation "very helpful" or "helpful" in one or more aspects of patient care in 86\% of cases, or in one or more aspects of physician education in 86\% of cases. These data are similar to university hospital data.
This article was published in Am J Med
and referenced in Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine