An account of the usefulness of a pilot clinical ethics program at a community hospital

QRB Qual Rev Bull. 1993 Jan;19(1):17-24. doi: 10.1016/s0097-5990(16)30583-8.


This article describes the development and implementation of a six-month pilot clinical ethics program at Saint Thomas Hospital (Nashville, Tenn). To assess the impact of this program, baseline data were gathered from a self-selected sample of critical and special care unit nurses and physicians about the "most troublesome" ethical dilemmas in their practices. Nurses and physicians reported facing similar dilemmas in practice. Nurses believed that chaplains and peers were most "beneficial" in resolving their "most troublesome" cases; physicians did not deem one particular individual or service to be of any greater benefit than any other in dilemma resolution. Nurses and physicians indicated that in many cases patients and families did not appear involved in the process. In a posttest survey following the pilot program, nurses rated the beneficial role of chaplains somewhat lower and agreed that the clinical ethics service was beneficial. As with the pretest sample, the posttest nurses evaluated the role of the attending physician as "detrimental" to resolving their ethical conflicts. In the posttest, physicians ranked the role of the clinical ethicist as comparable to that of chaplains and social workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bioethical Issues
  • Data Collection
  • Ethicists*
  • Ethics Committees / organization & administration
  • Ethics Committees / standards*
  • Ethics Committees / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethics Committees, Clinical
  • Ethics Consultation
  • Ethics, Clinical*
  • Ethics, Institutional
  • Hospital Bed Capacity, 500 and over
  • Hospitals, Community / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Community / standards*
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • Referral and Consultation / standards*
  • Staff Development
  • Tennessee
  • Withholding Treatment