Ethical Considerations in Healthcare
The increase in societal interest regarding accountability and litigation have increased the need for clinical ethics committees’ to evolve regarding their roles in health care police and decisions (Doyal, 2001). Currently, no single formula exists with regard to the organization and maintenance of an ethics committee, however, to satisfy the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requirements, an ethics committee must be maintained (Ethics Committee Core Curriculum, 2002).
The ethics committee selected for evaluation in this report has been established at a large teaching hospital located in an urban area. This hospital is very well known, most especially for its state-of-the-art research. Indeed the doctors involved in ongoing research studies at the hospital have received many national and even international awards. The committee’s primary aim is to evaluate the ethical issues attendant to research conducted at the hospital.
In other words, the committee reviewed in this report is an ethics committee charged with examining ethical concerns specifically related to research rather than an ethics committee charged with any clinical applications. Indeed, the hospital does not have a formal clinical ethics committee. The area of specific concern to the ethics committee is the protection of the interests of patients and health volunteers involved in all biomedical research studies carried out by hospital staff.
* two hospital consultants (both knowledgeable and skilled in medical research methodologies)
* one member of the local public health board
The hospital consultants serve as the Chair and Vice Chair of the committee. While hospital administration selected all committee members based on protocols they established for selection of a comprehensive ethics committee, the Chair and Vice Chair were selected by the committee members themselves.
In terms of procedures, the ethics commi…