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.

The John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre directly supports the delivery of clinical ethics to the University of Alberta Hospital, including specifically the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Walter McKenzie Health Sciences Centre, and Edmonton Kaye Clinic. Clinical ethics consultation is provided by a clinical ethicist, Brendan Leier, who is supported by a Clinical Ethics Committee, chaired by Dr. Cheryl Mack. On average, the Clinical Ethicist receives 7 to 8 detailed ethics consultations per month, in addition to many (100+) telephone and “corridor” consultations.Through the clinical service, the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre has created a partnership with Alberta Health Services for an ethical delivery of health care in the community.

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.