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Grassroots Grappling: Ethics Committees at Rural Hospitals

Denise A. Niemira, MD
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Requests for Reprints: Denise A. Niemira, MD, Women's and Children's Health Center, Inc., 30 Coventry St., P.O. Box 219, Newport, VT 05855.

Current Author Address: Dr. Niemira: Women's and Children's Health Center, Inc., 30 Coventry St., P.O. Box 219, Newport, VT 05855.

© 1988 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1988;109(12):981-983. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-109-12-981
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Institutional ethics committees are a well-established mechanism for dealing with ethical dilemmas at large health-care institutions. The presence of these committees at small rural hospitals is a recent phenomenon. Because such hospitals are nonspecialized and isolated and have limited resources, they do not naturally encourage the development and growth of ethics committees. The experience of larger institutions with such committees is not readily adaptable, and role models are lacking. The experience of rural Vermont hospitals with ethics committees shows that these committees can function fully at small hospitals and have three stages of development. To accelerate the evolution of ethics committees at small rural hospitals, networking between these hospitals and an association with academic centers are needed. State medical societies can also support these committees by endorsing and sharing resources.





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