Northwest Community Hospital (NCH) offers a full suite of resources to equip, educate and support medical staff members as they practice medical ethics in all aspects of patient care. By way of NCH's Ethics Committee, physicians can advance their knowledge and find practical assistance when faced with patient care scenarios that blend medical care with ethical and legal considerations.
The Ethics Committee at NCH is a multidisciplinary advisory team of physicians, clinicians, spiritual care specialists, legal and risk management representatives, and a community member. The Committee is chaired by Ronald Thomas, MD, Emergency Department medical director, as well as Gloria Reidinger, RN, APN, EdD, director of Research and Healthcare Ethics at NCH. Through policy development, education and outreach, and consultation services, Ethics Committee members foster a care environment that holds high the legal rights, personal preferences and worldviews of patients and families.
There are three distinct ways in which the Ethics Committee and its sub-group of ethics consultants offer support to medical staff members: Education, Pre-Consultation Ethics Services and Inpatient Ethics Consultations. According to Gloria Reidinger, the most under-utilized resource is the Pre-Consultation Ethics Service.
The Ethics Committee has established a single destination on the NCH Intranet for physicians to conveniently access NCH policies and procedures related to ethics, as well as legally-binding documents such as DNRs, Living Wills and Advance Directives. Support materials are available as well, including a decision-making capacity flow chart, patient rights and responsibilities, and guidelines on how to care for patients of various religions (e.g., Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim). The Ethics Committee Resource page is only available when logged on to the NCH network. Click here to browse these resources.
Physicians can reach out to a hospital chaplain 24/7 with general inquiries that pertain to ethical and legal healthcare best practices. In a pre-consultation dialogue, chaplains can clarify NCH policies and legal documents, offer guidance on how to handle potential family concerns, and provide direction on decisional capacity assessments, surrogate protocols and other ethically-based processes. Physicians are encouraged to leverage the pre-consultation service as an informational resource to resolve potential ethical care issues before an actual medical dilemma occurs. To request a Pre-Consultation Ethics Service, physicians can speak with the unit-based chaplain. After 4 pm and on weekends/holidays, call 847.618.2010 to connect with the chaplain on call.
Physicians can place an order for Inpatient Ethics Consultation in CareLink in the event of a medical dilemma or when conflicting opinions arise between the patient, family and/or care providers. Within 24 hours of the order (Sunday – Thursday), a member of the Ethics Committee's consultation team will conduct a chart review and meet with the physician requesting the consultation. Separate meetings will be scheduled with healthcare providers and the patient/family. Next, the ethics consultant will facilitate a care conference in which the ethical issues will be discussed, each party's perspective will be shared, and ethically acceptable options will be identified with the goal of finding a resolution to the ethical dilemma. Patients and family members can also request an ethics consult by speaking with their physician or nurse.
For more information about these services and resources, please contact Gloria Reidinger at 847.618.7970.