Use of the Medical Ethics Consultation Service in a Busy Level I Trauma Center: Impact on Decision-Making and Patient Care

Johnson, Laura S.; Lesandrini, Jason; Rozycki, Grace S.
July 2012
American Surgeon;Jul2012, Vol. 78 Issue 7, p735
Academic Journal
The purposes of this study were to assess reasons for consultation of the Ethics Consultation Service for trauma patients and how consultations impacted care. We conducted a review of ethics consultations at a Level I trauma center from 2001 to 2010. Data included patient demographics, etiology of injury, and timing/type of the consult, categorized as: shared decision-making, end-of- life, privacy and confidentiality, resource allocation, and professionalism. Consultations were requested on 108 patients (age mean, 46.5 ± 20 years; Injury Severity Scoremean, 23 ± 14; length of stay [LOS] mean, 44 ± 44 days), 0.50 per cent of all trauma admissions. Seventy-seven per cent of consultations occurred in the intensive care unit. End of life was the most common consultation (44%) followed by shared decision-making (41%). Average time to consultation was 25 days. Shared decision-making consults occurred much earlier than end-of-life consults as evidenced by a lower consult day/LOS ratio (consult day/LOS = 0.36 ± 0.3 vs 0.77 ± 0.3, P ± 0.0001). Conclusions consisted of: 1) ethics consultation on trauma patients are most commonly for end-of-life and shared decision-making issues; 2) most ethics consultations occur while patients are in the intensive care unit; and 3) earlier ethics consultations are likely to be for shared decision-making issues.


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