Ethics consultation

Also known as: Clinical ethics consultation, Organizational ethics consultation, Disaster planning, Ethics consultation

Providence Center for Health Care Ethics provides ethics consultation in the following areas:

Clinical: With two full-time ethicists on staff, Providence Center for Health Care Ethics offers clinical ethics consultation for staff and families throughout Oregon. At the three Portland-area Providence hospitals, consult teams have been established as part of the consultation service. These teams, led by Ethics Center staff (Rev.) John F. Tuohey, Ph.D., and Nicholas Kockler, Ph.D., MS, consist of Providence-trained physicians, nurses, acute care managers and chaplains who have completed the first 24 hours of the Ethics Core Curriculum Program and have received ongoing mentoring from center staff. Consult team members provide a valuable service in triaging consults and in responding to or setting up a more formal consultation meeting when appropriate. To ensure quality, consult teams meet weekly or twice monthly to review cases and evaluate performance.

An ethics consult can be obtained urgently by paging the center staff or routinely through a designated voicemail/pager system.

More than 60 percent of ethics consults are requested by physicians and residents. All consults are tracked in a database from which information can be drawn to improve clinical operations and to inform educational programs. We strive to demonstrate through quantifiable evidence that ethics consults can enhance patient safety and quality of care, reduce the risk of medical error, create efficiencies and contribute to an environment of ethical leadership.

Organizational: Providence Center for Health Care Ethics has developed a decision-making matrix for the ethical discernment of business and organizational practices. This matrix seeks to assure integrity in these decisions by exploring honesty in the pursuit of our Mission, reliability in our commitment of the common good, fairness in the impact on stakeholders and partners, and accountability for our justice concerns and our historical and Roman Catholic tradition. Ethical discernments are facilitated by hospital Mission directors or Ethics Center staff. 

Disaster planning: Providence Center for Health Care Ethics, in cooperation with the Oregon Medical Advisory Group, has developed a decision-making matrix for use in a pandemic or other high-casualty event. This matrix explores accountability for the key values of social solidarity, adherence to professional standards and justice, along with each values characteristics and related ethical issues.