Ethics Services

Patient Care Ethics

This tool is a resource for health-care providers and staff who are faced with a difficult ethical decision. It is not a prescription or a care map. Rather, it is a guide to help individuals and teams have effective conversations to find ethical solutions to difficult problems, and prepare to engage in discussions with patients, clients, residents and families.

PC Ethics Guide

PC Ethics Workbook

PC Ethics Quick

Patient Care Ethics Decision-Making Guide

  1. Clarifying the problem
    1.   Uncertainty • What is the main problem?
    2.   Biases • What assumptions are you making?
    3.   The Question • What, specifically, do you need to decide? What is still missing?
    4.   Major Stakeholders • Who will be affected by this decision?

  2. Describing the Ethical Considerations
    5.   Clinical Issues • What is the person’s condition?
    a. Medical Indications • How can we best benefit this person and avoid harm?                      
    b. Patient Preferences • How can this person’s wishes best be respected?
    c. Quality of Life • What are the person’s views on quality of life?
    6.   Context • What constraints are you operating with?
    7.   Ethical Principles • Respect for Autonomy? Doing good? Avoiding harm? Justice?
    8.   Options • List 2-3 viable options

  3. Choosing a Solution
    9.     Risks and Consequences • What could possibly go wrong?
    10.  Applicable Rules and Duties • What policies, laws, codes or standards apply?
    11.  Relationships • How will your options affect stakeholder relationships?
    12.  The Best Choice • Test your choices using the Ethical Checklist (reverse)

  4. Implementing and Evaluating
    13.  Action Plan • What will you do? Who needs to be told?
    14.  Evaluation • How do you and others feel?
    15.  Moral Distress • Is there any distress that needs to be followed up?
    16.  Policy Implications • Does this need to be escalated?

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.

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