In the Ethos of the Safety Net: An Expanded Role for Clinical Ethics Mediation
Clinical ethics mediation is invaluable for resolving intractable disputes in the hospital. But it is also a critical day-to-day skill for clinicians, especially those who serve a disproportionate number of vulnerable patients. While mediation is typically reserved for intractable cases, there are two important opportunities to expand its use. First is preventative mediation, in which clinicians incorporate clinical ethics mediation into their daily routine in order to address value-laden conflicts before they reach the point at which outside consultation becomes necessary. Second is guided mediation, in which clinical teams resolve conflicts with patients or surrogates with guidance from an ethics consultant, who operates at some distance from the conflict and, rather than recommending a single action, counsels clinicians on the process they can use to resolve the conflict on their own. These approaches build the capacity of all clinicians to use clinical ethics mediation to improve the care of vulnerable patients.
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