Building an Organizational Ethics Program on a Clinical Ethics Foundation

Timothy Lahey, Evan G. DeRenzo, Joshua Crites, Joseph Fanning, Barrie J. Huberman, and John Paul Slosar

 

ABSTRACT

 

Organizational ethics programs often are created to address tensions in organizational values that have been identified through repeated clinical ethics consultation requests. Clinical ethicists possess some core competencies that are suitable for the leadership of high-quality organizational ethics programs, but they may need to develop new skills to build these programs, such as familiarity with healthcare delivery science, healthcare financing, and quality improvement methodology. To this end, we suggest that clinical ethicists build organizational ethics programs incrementally and via quality improvement projects undertaken in collaboration with senior clinical leaders. Organizational ethics programs often differ from clinical ethics programs in their membership and processes, and likely will require ethicists to forge new partnerships with a wide array of organizational leaders. With attention to the ways that organizational ethics programs differ from clinical ethics programs, and investment in quality improvement methodology and formal institutional needs assessments, clinical ethics leaders can position an organizational ethics program to advocate effectively for visible and compelling alignment of leadership decision making with the values of the organization.

 

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