Evaluation of an Ethics Consultation Service: Patient and Family Perspective
Orr, Robert D.
Morton, Kelly R.
deLeon, Dennis M.
Fals, Juan C.
American Journal of Medicine. 1996 Aug; 101(2): 135-141.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients and their families found ethics consultations to be helpful and whether they were satisfied with the treatment decisions that were made in those cases where ethics consultation was requested. METHODS: Interviews were conducted with each patient (or surrogate) concerning whom an ethics consultation had been provided during a 1-year period at Loma Linda University Medical Center, excepting those who met exclusion criteria. The interview was done by telephone a few weeks after hospital discharge. It included multiple choice and open-ended questions. A content analysis was done on the solicited and spontaneous comments. RESULTS: Eighty-six ethics consultations were provided and interviews were completed for 56 of them (65%). Fifty-seven percent of interviewees found the ethics consultation to have been helpful, and only 4% found them to have been detrimental. Interviewees were more likely to have found the consultation helpful when they perceived that it had resulted in a significant change in treatment, and were less likely to have found it helpful when the patients were more seriously ill. In addition, 77% were satisfied with the treatment decisions made, and 11% showed some degree of dissatisfaction. CONCLUSIONS: Patients and families found ethics consultation provided by clinical ethicists at Loma Linda University Medical Center to be helpful in a majority of instances, and rarely found them detrimental. Based on an analysis of their comments, we believe ethics consultations were perceived as helpful in 7 ways: increased clinical clarity, increased moral or legal clarity, motivation to do what they believe is right, facilitation of the process of decision-making, implementation of a decision, interpretation of technical language, and consolation and support.
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