Ethical choices

Are you facing ethically difficult situations arising from the provision of clinical care?

Patients, families and healthcare providers often find themselves in situations that require making decisions about the direction of clinical care. Sometimes these decisions become very difficult because the best course of action is unclear and strong reasons support mutually exclusive alternatives.

Ethically difficult situations include issues related to:

  • Uncertainty or disagreements about the care plan to implement
  • Concerns about continuing, stopping or refusing treatment
  • Uncertainty about who should make a health-care decisions
  • Questions about justice, equity and human rights
  • Questions about patients’ information privacy and confidentiality
  • End-of-life decisions
  • Futility
  • Tensions between the approach to health care and individual’s values, religion or culture
  • Living at risk
  • Medical assistance in dying
  • Moral distress
  • Priority setting and resource allocation

What help is available when facing ethically difficult situations in clinical care?

NH Ethics Service is available for ethics consultations to help patients, family members and health professionals. Patients and family members accessing this service do not need a referral.

When the Ethics Service is contacted, an ethicist conducts confidential case consultations, in collaboration with NH Ethics Committees. The goal of these consultations is to create a safe space for dialogue and provide expert guidance to achieve a shared understanding of the situation that can open a path to move forward. Ethics consultations are conducted in a private, confidential and non-threatening environment and are aligned with the Northern Health Integrated Ethics Framework and the Northern Health Standards of Conduct.

How to access a clinical ethics consultation?

There are three different ways to request an ethics consultation:

Note: Any patient, family member or health care provider can ask the Ethics Committee for help. No referral is needed, and all consultations are completely confidential.

Meet the Ethics Service Team

NH Ethics Service team is composed of an ethicist and three Ethics Committees:

  • The ethicist is Dr. Esther Alonso-Prieto, Lead, Clinical and Research Ethics.
  • The Ethics Committees members represent the Regional Director, the Patient Care Quality Officer, clergy, dietitians, doctors, lawyers, nurses, pharmacists, social workers and other interested members of the community.