Objectives: In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlined 8 operational recommendations for pediatric institutional ethics committees (IECs). The study purpose was to quantify the extent to which pediatric IECs adhere to the AAP IEC Policy Statement recommendations.
Methods: A convenience sample of ethics points of contact from Children's Hospital Association membership were invited to complete an electronic survey on their ethics programs and practices in spring 2022. Nineteen survey questions were preidentified as reflecting measures specific to best practice standards previously published by the AAP. This subset of questions was analyzed using frequencies and categorized to assess for adherence to the AAP IEC policy recommendations.
Results: A total of 117 out of 181 surveys were completed (65%). Stark IEC practice gaps include: lack of diversity of membership, training needs to maintain members' competencies, quality improvement within the organization, and scope of ethics service. Over one-quarter of IECs do not have a systematic way of informing hospital staff about ethics consultancy services and how to place an ethics consult. Nineteen percent of responding IEC services do not inform patients or families about the existence of ethics consult services. One-third of responding children's hospitals do not provide resources for the IECs to engage in ethics education at the facility.
Conclusions: IECs in children's hospitals are not consistently abiding by operational recommendations. Next steps should include assessment of recommendation barriers and enablers with a goal of enhancing strong practices across IECs in children's hospitals.
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