It is a standard requirement for health care facilities to have a bio ethics committee to tackle ethical issues and find the right mode of resolving the issue. Patients have certain rights that health care providers must ensure they adhere to when rendering their services. Similarly, health care professionals have certain obligations that they are required to adhere to, when serving the patient. The ethics committee often intervenes in cases where a complaint has been forwarded. In an effort to determine the precise functions and operations of the bioethics committee, I interviewed Mrs. Cain. Mrs. Cain is the chair of the ethics committee at Fairview Hospital and oversees the functioning of the committee.
Functions of the Committee
The bio ethics committee at Fairview hospital was established with the sole purpose of being an advisory body for the health care facility. As an advisory body the ethics committee facilitates discussions and resolution of ethical matters that arise sat the health care facility. The bio ethics committee exclusively deals with ethical matters and issues that the committee focuses on are thus tied to ethical considerations. It is by reviewing the various ethical issues that arise that ethics committee is able to guarantee the provision of effective health care services to patients (Nelson, & Elliot, 2012). According to Mrs. Cain, the ethics committee strives to recognize the needs, interest and rights of patients, as well as other participants working at Fair view hospital. The guiding mission of the ethics committee is to serve patients and ascertain that their interests are protected
The ethics committee at Fairview hospitals renders several services. First, the committee strives to educate the health care professionals, and support staff at the hospital on the need to uphold ethical practices when executing their tasks. The committee also assists patients and their next of kin to understand the scope of medical ethics. The committee also offers consultation services to health care providers, patients and their next of kin when faced with medical problems that have an ethical perspective. The ethics committee also plays a vital role in the development and review of existing hospital policies. Members of the committee strive to ensure that the policies that Fairview hospitals adheres to abide by the expected ethical standards. The committee regularly revises existing hospital policies to ensure that they tally with the current professional and patient ethical standards. Some of the institution’s policies include policies on organ donation, informed consent and the use of life sustaining medication.
Membership and Duties
Bio ethics committee members consist of a diverse pool of experts and stakeholders who participate in the provision of health care services. Selection for membership is based factors such as an individual’s position of the welfare and care for the sick, their perception of ethical matters, as well as their reputation in their community and profession. Health care professionals such as the head physician, the therapist, nursing administrator, psychiatrist and chief surgeon make up ethics committee members. Other non medical members include the hospital chaplain, a social worker, and patient and community representative.
The committee also has a quality improvement manager who looks at the overall performance of the facility. The committee members are required to familiarize themselves with the ethical tenets surrounding the delivery of health care services (Nelson, & Elliot, 2012). When faced with different ethical dilemmas, the ethics committee invites guest members. Guests are selected from diverse disciplines depending on their professional and the ethical issue at hand.
The members and stakeholders of Fairview hospital are involved in the decision making processes by the committee. The committee takes up ethical matters by choice or as presented by patients or their next of kin. The committee can also look into ethical matters forwarded by the executive committee of the health care facility. As mentioned earlier, the ethics committee plays a consultative role at the health care facility. Patients and their families can place their ethical complaints with the committee. The committee members will strive to understand the nature of the grievance, and agree on the best approach to come up with a solution.
A breach of ethical conduct means that an interdisciplinary meeting will be held to review the case. A final decision with regard to a case is made after a critical review and evaluation with all committee members. Overall, the ethics committee strives to consider and resolve any ethical dilemmas that may arise in the health care facility. The committee, after reviewing an ethical problem, makes recommendations on the appropriate course of action.
Impact of the Ethics Facility to the Committee
The presence of the bio ethics committee has enabled health care facilitates such as Fairview hospital to guarantee patients quality healthcare services. A health care facility that is keen on following the ethical standards of health care service delivery ascertains quality patient care. Health care professionals such as physicians and nurses are able to render their services without making any ethical breaches.
Health care professionals are also able to make informed decisions when faced with difficult medical scenarios. The issue of informed consent can, for instance, put a health care professional at an ethical cross road. Informed consent is a process by which a patient makes a medical decision about his or her health. A health care professional has the ethical duty of notifying the patient on all developments related to his or her health (Nelson, & Elliot, 2012). A legal and ethical dilemma can arise if a health care profession can, for instance, perform a surgical procedure without notifying the patient. The ethics committee thus familiarizes health care professionals with essential steps they need to undertake when performing their duties.
The presence of ethics committee has been essential in assisting health care professionals, patients and their next of kin in making the right medical decisions. The consultative aspect of the ethics committee, assists health care professionals and patients experiencing difficulties in making medical decisions. The ethics committee acts a guide assisting these groups make the right choice (Wenger, & Glick, 2013). The intervention offered by the ethical committee has assisted physicians, patients and their next of kin overcome ethical dilemmas that come about with ineffective decisions. The ethics committee assists the professionals or patients understand the medical options they have and effects of each decision.
Ethics committees have enhanced communication between physicians and patients. Since the ethics committee serves an education function, it familiarizes health care professionals and patients/next of kin on essential ethical tenets on medical care. With this knowledge, the physicians and the patient can engage in productive and interactive communication regarding proper health care and quality of life. Effective communication enables patients to raise their personal concerns and preferences with regard to treatment and effective health care services (Nelson, & Elliot, 2012). The ethics committee enables physicians to be fully equipped with diverse knowledge on effective patients care while adhering to ethical medical practices.
The ethics committee has also assisted in effective problem solving in situations where the facility or a health care professional is faced with an accusation that is ethical in nature. The committee reviews the situations and analyzes the options that the physician had, before making a decision (Wenger, & Glick, 2013). The committee can make a decision, or forward its recommendation to a higher organ such as the medical board, so that appropriate action is undertaken. The ethics committee thus ensures that physicians or patients get a fair hearing and resolve the ethical problem presented.
Health care facilities such as Fairview hospital must have an effective ethics committee that exclusively reviews the ethical matters that arise within the facility. The health care profession is very delicate as it involves health care services to human beings. The physicians and nurses need an ethics committee to guide them with regard to ethical decisions. Patients and their families also need the ethics committee to guide them in decision making, as well as listen to their complaints when they arise. An effective committee is one that has integrated persons from various professions. A multidisciplinary team ensures that the committee has the expertise to handle any ethical issue presented. An effective committee assists in resolving conflict between patients and health care providers in the case of appropriate patients care.
Nelson, A. & Elliot, B. (2012). Ethics committee. Critical access hospital retrieved from http://geiselmed.dartmouth.edu/cfm/resources/cahe/cah_guide.pdf
Wenger, N. & Glick, S. (2013). Hospital ethics committees in Israel. Journal medicine of ethics. Vol. 28. 177-182