Inquiry to Ethics Consultation

If assistance is required with ethical questions or concerns related to medical needs, we can provide consultation services. Please contact us at

The Institute of Clinical Bioethics provides an Ethics Consult Service. Our faculty consult regularly on clinical cases that staff, patients, family and/or surrogates find morally troubling. Consultants are available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Small Faculty from the Institute of Catholic Bioethics meet with the clinical staff, patients, and/or family to clarify the ethical issues and options and to facilitate the decision-making process.

What is an Ethics Consult?

Making decisions amid all the complexities of modern medicine is not easy. Ethical questions can arise when a patient has lost the capacity to make decisions, when it is not clear whether the burdens of a treatment are worth the expected benefits, or when values appear to conflict. The Ethics Consult is an advisory service that is designed to assist patients, families and all health care professionals in identifying, analyzing and resolving ethical dilemmas.

How Does One Request a Consult?

Each Hospital Ethics Committee and its sub-committee may be accessed 24 hours a day by calling the Hospital’s page operator and asking the page operator to page the designated team leader (or alternate) of the on-call case review team.

Every member welcomes any questions or requests for informal discussion of clinical ethics at any time. A number of members of these committees have formal training in clinical ethics and most have served for several years on these committees. A roster of current members can be obtained from the Chairs of the Ethics Committees.

A clinical ethicist is on-call each week. Upon receiving a request for a consult, the ethicist, in conjunction with the consult team, will make initial inquiries and along with the clinical staff arrange for a consult meeting that is appropriate to the needs of the parties involved in the case.

Who Can Request an Initial Consult?

Anyone may request a consult. Patients, families, doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, and any member of the medical team are encouraged to call us for assistance.

What Happens in a Consult?

An ethicist and consult team reviews each request to see what type of consultation is best suited to a particular situation. Sometimes, for instance, the concern may only represent a communication problem. A full consult will generally involve a meeting of the full ethics committee, the health care team, the patient, and/or the patient's family as appropriate. The consultants do not judge the quality of patient care or make decisions. They help to facilitate a discussion of the situation and clarify the issues from an ethical perspective.

Contact Information:

If assistance is required with ethical questions or concerns related to medical needs, we can provide a consultation for a small fee. Please contact us at