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Ethics Consultation - How We Help Patients

Members of the MultiCare Bioethics department are here to assist you. We are specially trained to act as consultants and help sort through the ethical difficulties you may be experiencing. Based on ethical principles, we will provide recommendations regarding treatment and decisions.

Consultation requests will be responded to promptly.

Rest assured that we know these types of situations are personal and confidential. We will always respect  patients' and families' right to privacy.

When Should an Ethics Consult be Requested?

Ethics consults may be requested by patients, their families or MultiCare staff. You should consider requesting an ethics consult when:

  1. You believe there is an ethical problem with the patient's care
  2. A resolution cannot be agreed upon by the patient (or the patient’s surrogate decision maker) and the care team

Examples of situations where an ethics consult would be useful include:

  • A patient requires a particular medical intervention to survive. The patient refuses the treatment, but his doctor or family is worried that he does not entirely understand what the treatment is. Should the procedure be performed?

  • A patient tested positive for HIV, but tells his doctor not to inform his spouse. Is their provider obligated to maintain confidentiality or inform the spouse?

  • A 2-year-old child has meningitis, but her parents refuse treatment. Without treatment, the child will die. Should the hospital treat against the parent’s wishes?

Goals of an Ethics Consultation

  • Promoting patient rights
  • Correcting misunderstandings
  • Helping patients and families get the information they need
  • Resolving disputes and providing supporting for decision-makers
  • Making clear the moral status of any aspect of health care

To request an ethics consult, please contact Ryan Pferdehirt, Clinical Ethicist at 253-403-1136