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.
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 caregivers.
- 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
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.
- 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.
- Case Review: The committee will serve as a forum and source of ideas and recommendations for resolution of ethical conflicts in specific hospital cases.
- Awareness of Ethical Issues: The committee will promote an awareness of ethical issues related to health care on an ongoing basis.
- Identification of Dysfunctional Systems: The committee will seek to identify dysfunctional structures and systems within the Faith Regional Health Services Organization and propose alternatives to these structures 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. Minimum committee requirements will include representation from the following areas:
- Nursing Services
- Social Services
- 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 Vice President for Mission Services and will be responsible for the development of agendas and for chairing all meetings.
- 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 group decisions will be made by voice vote, written ballot or consensus. Members may abstain from voting when unable to commit to a specific position.
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, FRHS Medical Staff, Social Services, Spiritual Care or FRHS 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:
- 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 2.0 hours 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.
- Demonstrated commitment to the mission, vision and values of Faith Regional Health Services.
- Strict adherence to organizational policies concerning patient privacy and confidentiality.
- Failure to comply with the committee member responsibilities listed above will be grounds for immediate dismissal as a member of the Ethics Committee.
- Case Reviews and Consultations
The Faith Regional Health Services Ethics Committee is available on an "as needed" basis to deal with biomedical 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.
The Case Review Procedure
A request for case review or consultation may come at any time from any individual who is concerned about an existing issue or potential ethical dilemma.
1. The initiator of a case review may contact the committee chairperson or any other committee member.
2. If the issue is of such importance that it cannot wait until the next scheduled meeting, a special session of the committee may be convened at the discretion of the chairperson.
3. The review process will follow this general outline:
- Presentation of case and supporting data.
- Identification of medical, psychosocial and ethical concerns.
- Identification of ethical and legal issues involved in the situation.
- Suggestion of possible approaches to the situation.
- Recommendations to involved individuals.
- Documentation of issues and committee recommendations as appropriate.
4. The committee will not make patient care decisions or medical treatment recommendations.
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 will be referred appropriately.
As with all patient information, all documents or discussions related to Ethics Committee meetings and case reviews will be treated with strict confidentiality. In addition, all committee minutes and records will identify cases, patients or physicians through the use of medical record numbers, numerical codes or in general terms only.
Ethics Committee Policy Review
All ethics committee policies and procedures will be reviewed on an annual basis.