Jeffrey Spike, PhD; Jane Greenlaw, JD
Spike J., Greenlaw J.; Ethics Consultation: High Ideals or Unrealistic Expectations?. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133:55-57. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-1-200007040-00010
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(1):55-57.
Ethics consultation evolved out of the field of bioethics, which was itself largely a product of the 1970s. Thus, when the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities report “Core Competencies for Health Care Ethics Consultation” was commissioned 4 years ago (1), the oldest ethics services had been in existence for barely 20 years and were in the adolescent stage of development—with high ideals and unrealistic expectations. The report represented the opportunity to evaluate the progress of and set future agendas for ethics consultation.
The report makes an informative starting point for someone interested in learning about ethics consultation. However, because it is the work of a consensus panel, the report softens or avoids some points of disagreement. This commentary tackles four such points and highlights the critical weaknesses of some of the approaches that the consensus panel presents as viable options. The four issues that we find problematic concern committees versus individual consultants, interdisciplinary competency, practical wisdom versus character, and financial support for ethics services.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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