An Argument for Standardized Ethical Directives for Secular Healthcare Services


Abram L. Brummett and Jamie C. Watson


We argue that the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities has endorsed a facilitation approach to clinical ethics consultation that asserts that bioethicists can offer moral recommendations that are well-grounded in bioethical consensus. We claim that the closest thing the field currently has to a citable, nationally endorsed bioethical consensus are the 22 Core References used to construct the questions for the Healthcare Ethics Consultant-Certified (HEC-C) exam. We acknowledge that the Core References reflect some important points of bioethical consensus, but note they are unwieldy, repetitive, and sometimes inconsistent on important issues faced by clinical ethicists. In this article, we draw carefully qualified inspiration from the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) to argue for the creation of a concise, nationally endorsed bioethical consensus document on moral issues commonly faced in clinical ethics, what we call the Standardized Ethical Guidelines for Secular Health Care Services (SEGs).  We observe that such a document would better meet the expectations of stakeholders, clinical ethicists, and their trainees who desire moral recommendations grounded in a clearly articulated bioethical consensus, and we defend the SEGs from some common objections.



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