Developing a Standardized Ethics Consultation Note Template Based on the Formatting Preferences of Stakeholders

Margot M. Eves, Laura J. Hoeksema, Patricia A. Mayer, and Hilary Mabel


Effective documentation is considered a core competency for clinical ethics consultation. Ethics consultants within the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, observed variation in the formatting of ethics chart notes across consultants and realized that this formatting was based on their own views of effectiveness. To minimize variation and optimize the readability and understandability of ethics chart notes for end users, a team undertook a quality improvement project to assess the formatting preferences of healthcare professionals who rely on ethics consultation notes. The team developed three sample templates and conducted interviews with stakeholders to understand their preferences. A single standardized template was developed based on the preferences that emerged, which all consultants on the ethics consultation service then utilized. In the first five months of implementation, the percentage of end user respondents marking the highest Likert scale option on a post-consultation survey regarding whether the ethics consultation service provided helpful documentation increased from 60 percent to 72 percent compared to the same five-month period in the year prior.



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