Despite the emergence of clinical ethics consultation as a clinical service in recent years, little is known about how clinical ethics consultation differs from, or is the same as, other medical consultations. A critical assessment of the similarities and differences between these 2 types of consultations is important to help the medical community appreciate ethics consultation as a vital service in today's health care setting. Therefore, this Special Article presents a comparison of medical and clinical ethics consultations in terms of fundamental goals of consultation, roles of consultants, and methodologic approaches to consultation, concluding with reflections on important lessons about the physician-patient relationship and medical education that may benefit practicing internists. Our aim is to examine ethics consultation as a clinical service integral to the medical care of patients. Studies for this analysis were obtained through the PubMed database using the keywords ethics consultation, medical consultation, ethics consults, medical consults, ethics consultants, and medical consultants. All English-language articles published from 1970 through August 2011 that pertained to the structure and process of medical and ethics consultation were reviewed.
Copyright © 2012 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.