Ethics Services

Ethical Decision Guides

Applied Ethics Strategy

Ethical decisions happen often in health care. Some can be distressing and will profoundly affect the people involved. Some ethical questions are specific to the care of an individual person. Others concern issues and conflicts about how the organization functions and makes decisions.
Whatever the cause, people facing difficult ethical decisions need help to work through the problem and arrive at a solution that is best for the situation, all things considered. A decision-making guide or tool can be very helpful.

Decision-making guides are systematic and thorough. They can help to make sure no important factors are missed or forgotten in the process. They can also help address some of the moral distress that goes along with difficult ethical situations, by ensuring a good process is followed. In the end, the goal is for a decision that everyone can understand and live with, even when they might not agree 100 per cent.

Decision tools help guide the discussion about the ethical implications of various options. They can help people feel comfortable that everything was discussed and the best possible decision was made.

These tools were developed by WRHA Ethics Services for use in patient care and non-patient care situations.

Do you have a difficult decision to make? Are you involved in a tough choice or a distressing situation?

If your problem directly involves a patient, see the Patient Care Ethics Decision-Making Guide.

If you have a problem or decision that does not directly involve a patient or patient care situation, click here for the Health Services Ethics Decision Making Guide.

If you are a patient or family member with a tough decision to make, the Patient and Family Decision Guide might be a helpful tool.

This is designed for individuals and families facing a difficult personal health or social decision. It is short, uses simple language, and walks you through identifying the decisions you need to make, weighing out your values and influences, and then implementing the decision.

The Guide’s home page has other tools, as well as a video of someone using the guide. It has also been translated into seven languages.

Documents on this site are available in alternative formats upon request. Please contact for more information.

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