Case Complexity and Quality Attestation for Clinical Ethics Consultants


Bethany Spielman, Jana Craig, Christine Gorka, and Keith Miller


      A proposal by the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities (ASBH) to identify individuals who are qualified to perform ethics consultations neglects case complexity in candidates’ portfolios. To protect patients and healthcare organizations, and to be fair to candidates, a minimum case complexity level must be clearly and publicly articulated. This proof-of-concept study supports the feasibility of assessing case complexity. Using text analytics, we developed a complexity scoring system, and retrospectively analyzed more than 500 ethics summaries of consults performed at an academic medical center during 2013. We demonstrate its use with seven case summaries that range in complexity from uncomplicated to very complicated. We encourage the ASBH to require a minimum level of case complexity, and recommend that attestation portfolios include several cases of moderate complexity and at least one very complex case.



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