Ethics and palliative care: which consultant and when?

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2012 Mar;29(2):146-50. doi: 10.1177/1049909111410560. Epub 2011 Jun 10.


Over the past 30 years, and increasingly over the past decade, palliative care services characteristically address the complexity of communication, decision making, and management of end-of-life issues for patients and families of all ages. Clinical ethics services have a parallel 30-plus year history in the United States-so much so that some have offered that clinical ethics has "cut its teeth" on issues attendant to the beginning and end of life. The authors propose considerations necessary in determining the appropriateness of consultation with palliative care, clinical ethics, or both, and when either may be necessary but perhaps not sufficient for patient and family management. A resolution for any encountered tension and identification of common or overlapping domains for both consultants is presented.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Ethics Consultation / standards*
  • Ethics, Clinical*
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / ethics*
  • Terminal Care / ethics*
  • United States