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Journal of Clinical Ethics

Alan R Tait
Informed consent is central to the bioethical principle of respect for persons, a process that involves a discussion between the physician and patient with disclosure of information sufficient to allow the patient to make an informed decision about her or his care. However, despite the importance of informed consent in clinical practice, the process is often ritualized, perfunctory, and performed by individuals with little or no training in the consent process. This article discusses the lack of medical students' and residents' training in informed consent and questions the practice of allowing untrained residents and surrogates to obtain consent from patients...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Margaret Waltz, R Jean Cadigan, Benny Joiner, Paul Ossman, Arlene Davis
Today's medical training environment exposes medical trainees to many aspects of what has been called "the hidden curriculum." In this article, we examine the relationship between two aspects of the hidden curriculum, the performance of emotional labor and the characterization of patients and proxies as "bad," by analyzing clinical ethics discussions with resident trainees at an academic medical center. We argue that clinicians' characterization of certain patients and proxies as "bad," when they are not, can take an unnecessary toll on trainees' emotions...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Lisa Campo-Engelstein, Diane Chen, Arlene B Baratz, Emilie K Johnson, Courtney Finlayson
Fertility preservation has become more common for various populations, including oncology patients, transgender individuals, and women who are concerned about age-related infertility. Little attention has been paid to fertility preservation for patients with differences/disorders of sex development (DSD). Our goal in this article is to address specific ethical considerations that are unique to this patient population. To this end, we present a hypothetical DSD case. We then explore ethical considerations related to patient's age, risk of cancer, concern about genetic transmission of a DSD condition to children, co-occurring gender dysphoria, and access to experimental fertility preservation procedures...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Jennifer S Needle, Cynthia Peden-McAlpine, Joan Liaschenko
Advance care planning (ACP) is a process that seeks to elicit patients' goals, values, and preferences for future medical care. While most commonly employed in adult patients, pediatric ACP is becoming a standard of practice for adolescent and young adult patients with potentially life-limiting illnesses. The majority of research has focused on patients and their families; little attention has been paid to the perspectives of healthcare providers (HCPs) regarding their perspectives on the process and its potential benefits and limitations...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
John C Fletcher, Edward M Spencer
In the context of all of the discussion about "Fletcherian" ethics consultation, we're including this description of ethics consultation for clarity and in deference to the work of John C. Fletcher. It's reprinted from the third edition of Fletcher's Introduction to Clinical Ethics.
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Evan G DeRenzo
The role of clinical ethics consultant in hospitals was created about 30 years ago. Since that time, two very different models for clinical ethics consultation, and who should perform it, have arisen: clinician ethicists and nonclinician ethicists, or bioethicists. Neither model provides everything that hospitals might need, and both include perspectives that are not ideal for hospital practice. It's time for a new model, one designed specifically to meet the needs of hospital patients, one we might call the hospital model of clinical ethics (HMCE)...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
David Michael Vaughan, Rebecca Permar, Corisa Rakestraw, Ryan Hart, Leslie C Griffin, William J Winslade
We believe that clinical ethics consultants (CECs) should offer advice, options, and recommendations to attending physicians and their teams. In their article in this issue of The Journal of Clinical Ethics, however, Kornfeld and Prager give CECs a somewhat different role. The CEC they describe may at times be more aptly understood as a medical interventionist who appropriates the roles of the attending physician and the medical team than as a traditional CEC. In these remarks, we distinguish the role of the CEC from that of the physician, in contrast to some of these authors' recommendations, which confuse the two roles...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Mark Siegler
In November 2018 the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) administered the first Healthcare Ethics Consultant Certification examination to 138 candidates, 136 of whom (98.5 percent) passed and were "certified" as "healthcare ethics consultants." I believe this certification process is both premature and inadequate. Certification for ethics consultants is premature because, as Kornfeld and Prager state repeatedly in their article in this issue of The Journal of Clinical Ethics, "The Clinician as Clinical Ethics Consultant: An Empirical Method of Study," there is a lack of "empirical data on the nature of the problems that prompt ethics consultation requests and on the functions required to address them...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Donald S Kornfeld, Kenneth Prager
Some 30 years ago the role of the clinical ethics consultant (CEC) was formalized. At the time, the perception of the role differed between two groups serving in that capacity, clinicians and nonclinicians. Differences in their roles reflected their training and experience. These divergent views were resolved semantically by designating the role of the CEC as "ethics facilitation." In practice the different perspectives have remained. However, the subsequent published literature on clinical ethics consultation has not adequately reflected the activity of the clinician as a CEC...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Erin S DeMartino, Joshua A Rolnick
In the United States, patients who lose the ability to make their own medical decisions are subject to the laws of their respective states. Laws governing advance directives and physician orders for life-sustaining therapies (POLST), and establishing a surrogate in the absence of an advance directive, vary substantially by jurisdiction. This article traces those laws from their origins, describes current practices and challenges with their application to patient care, and considers future avenues for ethics research and legislative reform...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Edmund G Howe
In this article I will discuss how clinicians might best treat adolescents who may die. I initially discuss these patients' cognition, emotional tendencies, and sensitivity to interpersonal cues. I next discuss their parents' feelings of loss and guilt and their clinicians' risk of imposing their own moral views without knowing this. I then address the practical concerns of helping these patients gain or regain resilience and to identify strengths they have had in the past. I finally explore who, among staff, might be best able to do this...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Edmund G Howe
There have been many advances in clinical ethics over the last three decades, since The Journal of Clinical Ethics first came about. This issue of JCE notes some of them. Fortuitously for this goal, new requirements for doing research just have been published, and the leading United States research ethics meeting has just concluded. The conference offered edge-of-the-field presentations in research ethics, and indicates where we should go beyond this edge: what we still have to do. In this article I build upon foundations to explore what they imply for what we should do now in our clinics...
2019: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Bethany Bruno, Margot Eves
Donation after cardiac death (DCD) traditionally occurs in two patient populations: (1) those who do not meet neurological death criteria but who have suffered severe neurological damage, and (2) those who are fully alert and awake but are dependent on machines. This case highlights the unique dilemma when a patient falls between these two populations-conscious and cognitively intact, but completely paralyzed except for limited eye movement, afflicted by what the medical community refers to as locked-in syndrome...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Paul J Cummins, Federico Nicoli
That Jehovah's Witnesses may refuse lifesaving blood transfusions is a morally accepted feature of contemporary medical practice. The principle of respect for autonomy supports this, and there is seldom reason to interfere with this choice because it rarely harms another individual. Advances in surgical technique have made it possible for transplant surgeons to perform bloodless organ transplant, enabling Jehovah's Witnesses to benefit from this treatment. When the transplant organ is a directed donation from a family member or friend, no ethical dilemma arises...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Jennifer E deSante-Bertkau, Michelle L McGowan, Armand H Matheny Antommaria
INTRODUCTION: Classifying the ethical issues in clinical ethics consultations is important to clinical practice and scholarship. We conducted a systematic review to characterize the typologies used to analyze clinical ethics consultations. METHODS: We identified empirical studies of clinical ethics consultation that report types of ethical issues using PubMed. We screened these articles based on their titles and abstracts, and then by a review of their full text...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Laura S Johnson, David M Brenner, Nneka O Sederstrom
BACKGROUND: Robust ethics consultation services cannot be sustained by all hospitals; consultative service from a high-volume center via teleconferencing is an attractive alternative. This pilot study was conceived to explore the feasibility and understand the practical implications of offering such a service. METHODS: High-definition videoconferencing was used to provide real-time interaction between the rounding clinicians and a remote clinical ethicist. Data collection included: (1) evaluation of the hardware and software required for teleconferencing, and (2) comparison of ethics trigger counts between the remote and on-site ethicist during rounds...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Robert Allan Pearlman, David Alfandre, Barbara L Chanko, Mary Beth Foglia, Kenneth A Berkowitz
The Ethics Consultation Quality Assessment Tool (ECQAT) establishes standards by which the quality of ethics consultation records (ECRs) can be assessed. These standards relate to the ethics question, consultation-specific information, ethical analysis, and recommendations and/or conclusions, and result in a score associated with one of four levels of ethics consultation quality. For the ECQAT to be useful in assessing and improving the quality of healthcare ethics consultations, individuals who rate the quality of ECRs need to be able to reliably use the tool...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Abraham Graber, Carolyn April, Michael D April
Respect for patients' autonomy has taken a central place in the practice of medicine. Received wisdom holds that respect for autonomy allows overriding a patient's treatment preferences only if the patient has been found to lack capacity. This understanding of respect for autonomy requires a dichotomous approach to assessing capacity, whereby a patient must be found either to have full capacity to make some particular treatment decision or must be found to lack capacity to make that decision. However, clinical reality is more complicated, and, in borderline cases, different physicians may arrive at disparate judgments of capacity...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Edmund G Howe
Patients' and families' greatest need is often to do what for them is most meaningful. This may be, for example, their religion, their family, or their doing good for others. This piece will explore ways in which care providers may help maximize these ends. Paradigms offered will include Jehovah's Witness patients needing kidney transplants, a transgender adolescent wanting his sperm preserved, care providers' deciding whether to disclose that a deceased organ donor had HIV, and care providers seeking to do good for children profoundly impaired and adults who feel shame for just existing...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
Paul M Wangenheim
Electronic health record (EHRs) have largely replaced obsolete paper medical charts. This replacement has produced an increased demand on physicians' time and has compromised efficiency. In an attempt to overcome this perceived obstacle to productivity, physicians turned to medical scribes to perform the work required by EHRs. In doing so, they have introduced an uninvited participant in the physician-patient relationship and compromised patients' confidentiality. Scribes may be a successful work around for physicians frustrated by EHRs, but patients' confidentiality should not be sacrificed in the process...
2018: Journal of Clinical Ethics
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