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Clinical ethics consultation

The DeGroot Center and Sanford USD Medical Center is committed to providing patients, family members and hospital staff with assistance on addressing ethical questions that may arise before and during medical care. Sanford Health recognizes that many health care issues involve difficult decisions for patients, families and practitioners. Support is provided in making medical ethics decisions through a clinical ethics consultation service, advanced care planning and educational programming.

What is clinical ethics?

Many health care issues involve difficult decisions for patients, families and practitioners. Author of Clinical Ethics: A Practical Approach to Ethical Decisions in Clinical Medicine, Albert R. Jonsen, states that “ethical issues are embedded in every clinical encounter between patients and clinicians.” Clinical ethics involves an ability to recognize an ethical issue, reach a reasonable conclusion and offer a rational recommendation. Clinical ethics is important to both those who offer and those who receive health care. Sanford Medical Center provides support in making clinical ethics decisions through:   

What is the clinical ethics consultation service?

Clinical ethics consultation is available to assist individuals with decision-making. We accept consult requests from patients and families, and all members of the health care team involved in patient care, legal affairs and administrators. We work closely with the palliative care team, patient relations, spiritual care, and other teams as appropriate to foster resolution.

When to contact:

Challenging questions may arise when discussing goals of care and treatment for a specific patient. When faced with hard choices, people involved in the patient’s care may be unsure about how to proceed, need clarification or disagree. In such situations consultation with an ethics consultant or committee may help those involved better understand the situation. Recommendations are offered but the final decision will always remain with the doctors, patient and family.

Clinical ethics consultation is a free service and anyone involved in the patient’s care can request a consult.