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Provider Resources

Ethics Consultation Service

The Ethics Consultation Service (ECS) is the service branch of the Ethics Committee. The ECS is a multi-professional group composed of nurses, physicians, chaplains, community representatives, an attorney, and other clinicians. The different options for treatment can sometimes make decision-making difficult for patients, families, and the healthcare team. The ECS can help work through uncertainty or conflict regarding value-laden issues in health care.

Sometimes patients can no longer speak and loved ones are unsure what to do about the patient’s care. Sometimes, the health care team members have different views about the best course of action for the patient’s care. In those situations, as well as for other reasons, the Ethics Consultation Service may help.

When We Can Help

An ethics consultation may be helpful to:

  • Facilitate discussion of differences in opinion among caregivers and/or family members about treatment
  • Facilitate discussion about end of life decision-making
  • Address questions about surrogate decision-makers and/or patient advance directives
  • Address question about policies, such as resuscitation or withholding/withdrawing life-sustaining treatment

Ethics Consultation Process

The MUSC Medical Center has a policy of open consultation in that anyone associated with the patient’s care, including patient, family members or healthcare providers, can request an ethics consult.

Often, the Ethics Consultation Service will arrange and facilitate a meeting with the patient and/or family, doctors, nurses, and others clinicians involved in the patient’s care. The purpose of this meeting is to identify the ethical issues, identify the ethically appropriate treatment options, provide problem-solving and informational expertise, and promote efforts to work out the conflict among the participants, if necessary. The ECS documents this discussion and ethically appropriate recommendations in the medical record. Decision-making rests with the participants and the ECS serves in an advisory capacity only.