Clinical Ethics

Ethics are fundamental to the clinical delivery of health care. At times, we recognize ethics when health care professionals or their patient families are faced with difficult choices in the course of treatment. Other times, it is situations of uncertainty that necessitate the services of clinical ethics.

Since its inception, the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre has supported the delivery of clinical ethics to the University of Alberta Hospital, and, over the years, specifically at the Mazankowski Heart Institute, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Walter McKenzie Health Sciences Centre, and Edmonton Clinic. That said, the Clinical Ethics Service at the University of Alberta Hospital is a distinct entity to the Dossetor Health Ethics Centre under the umbrella of Alberta Health Services.

The Clinical Ethics Service helps patients, families, and health care providers address such questions as: What is the right thing to do? How should a decision be made? Does a reasonable compromise exist? In addressing these questions, the clinical ethics service aims for compassion, accountability, respect, excellence, and safety.

Ethics consultations can be requested by patients, families, or any member of the health care teams. Consultations can be simple conversations, guided discussions with teams, assistance with decision-making, or shared analysis of complex situations and ethical issues.

The Clinical Ethics Service does not make decisions or replace appropriate decision makers. Rather, it may make recommendations or facilitate balanced, objective discussion of the situation at hand.

Members of the John Dossetor Ethics Centre who also serve as clinical ethicists or members of clinical ethics committees may use themes identified from clinical ethics to serve the Centre’s mandates of education, engagement, and scholarship.