Development of a Clinical Ethics Committee De Novo at a Small Community Hospital by Addressing Needs and Potential Barriers

Bonnie H. Arzuaga

Hospital ethics committees are common, but not universal, in small hospitals. A needs assessment was completed at a 155-bed community hospital in order to adapt an academic tertiary center model for a clinical ethics committee to fit the needs of the small hospital community. Of 678 questionnaires distributed, 209 were completed. Data suggested that clinical staff frequently experienced ethical dilemmas. Significantly more nonphysicians indicated that they would utilize a consultation service, if available, compared to physicians (p = 0.0067). The data also indicated that the majority of staff (>80 percent) desired more education in clinical ethics. Physicians preferred annual or bi-annual hospital-wide grand rounds, compared to nonphysicians, who preferred more frequent department-based teaching (p < 0.001). The data presented in this article were used to subsequently develop a clinical ethics support committee, the process of which is also described.


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