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The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requires as a condition of accreditation that every health care institution -- hospital, nursing home, or home care agency -- have a standing mechanism to address ethical issues. Most organizations have chosen to fulfill this requirement with an interdisciplinary ethics committee. The best of these committees are knowledgeable, creative, and effective resources in their institutions. Many are wellmeaning but lack the information, experience, and skills to negotiate adequately the complex ethical issues that arise in clinical and organizational settings.
Handbook for Health Care Ethics Committees is the first resource designed to address the range of work performed by ethics committees as part of their multiple responsibilities, including education, case consultation, and policy development. It features an eight-chapter curriculum reviewing the content of contemporary health care bioethics and discussing the ethical foundations of clinical practice, with each subsequent section focusing on a set of ethical issues that commonly arise in the clinical setting. Through case studies, the authors explore issues such as informed consent and refusal, decision making and decisional capacity, truth telling, decision-making concerns of minors, end-of-life issues, palliation, justice in and access to health care services, and organizational ethics. They offer sample policies and procedures, draft guidelines and protocols, and key legal cases.
Providing both a strong theoretical foundation and practical applications, this handbook will be essential reading for every member of a health care ethics committee.