The Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee exists in an effort to provide a forum, within the Faith Regional Health Services Organization, for advocacy, education and the promotion of systemic/organizational change, with regard to ethical issues related to healthcare.
Purpose of the Ethics Committee
The Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee will serve as a forum for institutional and systemic change both within the Faith Regional Health Services Organization and the broader health care community. The committee will be a proactive entity that is primarily concerned with organizational systems and structure as they relate to ethical issues within the healthcare environment. In addition, the committee will serve as a resource to family members, Faith Regional Health Services personnel, Faith Regional Health Services medical staff and the community by promoting an environment of open, effective communication and collaboration.
The Ethics Committee will serve in an advisory capacity only; that is, all committee recommendations will be non-binding in nature and are intended only to assist individuals with obtaining resolution to their questions or concerns.
Mission and Vision
Building upon the mission, vision and values of Faith Regional Health Services, the Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee will advocate for systems and structures that promote an atmosphere of care and healing characterized by:
- The belief that all life is a gift from God.
- Respect for the dignity of life in each human person from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.
- Care that embraces the entire human person. . . body, mind and spirit.
- Commitment to patient and family involvement and empowerment in all decision making.
- Concern for careful and judicious use of available resources.
- Open, timely and effective communication among patients, families and the healthcare team.
- Effective mechanisms for anticipating and resolving confusion or conflict.
- A recognition that dying with dignity is as much a goal of care as healing and health promotion.
Ongoing Objectives and Responsibilities
In addition to advocating for institutional and systemic change, the Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee will serve as a resource for patients, family members, Faith Regional Health Services staff, Faith Regional Health Services medical staff and the community through the following types of activities:
- Education: The committee will facilitate ongoing education regarding current biomedical ethical issues and concerns.
- Consultation: The committee will serve as a source of recommendations and ideas for resolution of ethical issues and conflicts within the Faith Regional Health Services organization and for resolution of ethical conflicts in specific hospital cases upon request.
- Policy Development and Change: The committee will be actively involved in the development and review of organizational policies and guidelines regarding ethical issues in patient care.
- Awareness of Ethical Issues: The committee will promote an awareness of ethical issues related to health care on an ongoing basis.
The Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee willb be composed of members with a broad range of expertise, as appropriate for the effective performance of committee responsibilities. Composition of the Ethics Committee will include, at a minimum, representation from the following areas of the Faith Regional Health Services Organization:
- Nursing Services
- Social Work/Case Management
- Spiritual Care
- Active Medical Staff
- Hospital Administration
The Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee will meet on a regular basis at a date, time, location and frequency determined by the committee. Special meetings may be called at the discretion of the chairperson.
Committee officers will consist of a chairperson and co-chairperson.
- The chairperson will be the Executive Director of Mission Services and will be responsible for the development of agendas and for chairing all meetings and committee consultations.
- The co-chairperson will be designated by the chairperson, as needed, to assist the chairperson in development of agendas and will be responsible for chairing meetings in the absence of the chairperson.
The chairperson will determine whether committee recommendations will be made by voice vote, written ballot or consensus. Members may abstain from voting when unable to commit to a specific position or have a conflict of conscience regarding the issue.
At all regular committee meetings a quorum will consist of those members who are present for the meeting. In the event of a special meeting that has been called to deal with an immediate, ethical issue or family consultation, a minimum of 3 committee members representing three of the following areas will be required: Nursing Services, Faith Regional Health Services Medical Staff, Social Services, Spiritual Care or Faith Regional Health Services Administration.
Committee Member Responsibilities
Ethics Committee membership will be based upon demonstrated skills for and dedication to institutional change as well as an ongoing commitment to support the mission, vision, values and purpose of Faith Regional Health Services and the Ethics Committee. Specifically, continued committee membership will require:
- Demonstrated commitment to the mission, vision and values of Faith Regional Health Services.
- Regular attendance at Ethics Committee meetings. (Regular attendance will be defined as attendance at no less than 75% of all scheduled meetings each year.)
- Continuing education of at least 1.0 hour per year specific to healthcare ethics.
- Serving as a liaison between hospital staff, patients, families, medical staff and the Ethics Committee.
- Demonstrated proactive involvement in the promotion and discussion of ethical issues.
- Active involvement in committee issues outside of regular committee meetings.
- Strict adherence to organizational policies concerning patient privacy and confidentiality.
Ethics Committee Consultations
The Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee will be available on an "as needed" basis to assist with ethical issues on behalf of a patient, family or health team member. In these situations, the committee will provide a forum through which:
- The rights of patients, families and health team members are clarified.
- Ethical issues or concerns are discussed, clarified and/or mediated.
- Ethical issues are considered in the context of costs and/or reimbursement constraints.
- Support is offered to involved decision makers.
Following an Ethics Committee Consultation, a written summary of the consultation will be completed. The written review will include, at a minimum, a summary of the issue presented, those in attendance, recommendations and/or opinions of Ethics Committee members related to the issue(s) presented.
Accessing the Ethics Committee
1. Access to the Ethics Committee may be gained by contacting the committee chairperson (Executive Director of Mission Services). Patients or members of their family may also access the committee by contacting a nursing supervisor or any employee of the Spiritual Care, Social Work/Case Management, Palliative Care or Administration Departments who will then contact the committee chairperson.
2. The Ethics Committee Chairperson, or their designee, will contact the requesting party to ascertain the reason for the requested review.
3. In instances where a committee consultation is deemed appropriate, the chairperson, or their designee, will notify the Ethics Committee members and the primary parties involved of the date, time and location of the scheduled meeting, and invite participation from all involved parties.
If the chairperson determines that a committee consultation is not warranted or not appropriate, the concern will be forwarded through the appropriate organization channels. (Examples of inappropriate consultation requests may include, but not be limited to, billing problems, matters of professional discipline, staff or patient grievances, or questions of organization or departmental process or procedures.)
4. The Ethics Committee review process will follow a general outline:
- Presentation of the concern and supporting data.
- Identification of medical, cultural, psychosocial, spiritual or ethical concerns.
- Identification of ethical and legal issues involved in the situation.
- Suggestions of possible approaches to the situation.
- Recommendations to involved individuals.
- Documentation of issues and committee recommendations as appropriate.
5. The committee may determine that some concerns or issues would be best addressed by other hospital committees or departments. In these situations, the case or concern will be referred appropriately.
As with all patient information, all documents or discussions related to Ethics Committee meetings and consultations will be treated with strict confidentiality following the Faith Regional Health Services Confidentiality of Patient Information and Confidentiality policies, and all other Faith Regional Health Services policies related to privacy and confidentiality.