Effect of ethics consultations in the intensive care unit

Crit Care Med. 2006 Nov;34(11 Suppl):S359-63. doi: 10.1097/01.CCM.0000237078.54456.33.


Although evidence-based research is limited, results suggest that ethics consultations are associated with reductions in hospital days and intensive care unit days and in life-sustaining treatments in those patients who ultimately will not survive to discharge. Furthermore, the majority of healthcare providers and patients/surrogates agreed that ethics consultations in the intensive care unit were helpful in addressing treatment conflicts. Ethics consultations also reduce hospital costs without diminishing the quality of care. Hence, ethics consultations seem to be useful in resolving conflicts that may be inappropriately prolonging nonbeneficial or unwanted treatments at the end of life. Further research on whether ethics consultations are beneficial in other settings is needed to establish the optimal scope of this intervention. Also, the benefits described above were achieved by highly skilled and experienced consultants. It is not certain, therefore, how successful other hospitals will be when adopting this intervention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Ethicists*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / ethics*
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Referral and Consultation / ethics*
  • Referral and Consultation / organization & administration
  • Terminal Care / ethics*
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration