Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) bring care, love, and hope to all its patients and their families. Sometimes, though, determining what care is best can lead to ethics/moral concerns about what direction to take and why. ACH recognizes the need to provide patients, families, and healthcare professionals a forum where ethical concerns can be discussed and reflected upon. Ethical concerns are often issues of values and interests that families want to see considered in the way that care is provided to their children. Further, healthcare professionals have responsibilities and obligations they must fulfill. Most of the time, family interests and physician responsibilities work well together, but at other times, problems can arise.
Some of the issues that can cause conflicts in caring for a patient may be spiritual in nature, others may be legal matters, but there are also basic philosophical, conceptual, or values issues that arise while developing and implementing care plans for our patients. These ethical issues need to be addressed in order to provide the best care.
ACH provides two formal ways to help patients, families, and healthcare staff think through the ethical issues that can arise in care. They are: (1) a conversation with members of the Bioethics Committee or (2) a consult from a clinical ethicist.
The ACH Bioethics Committee has been in existence since 1984 and is made up of physicians, nurses, social workers, administrators, chaplains, and others from the ACH staff as well as community volunteers. While it is not the case that every call to the committee requires a full-committee discussion, the committee makes itself available to discuss care issues whenever needed. Anyone (patient, family, or healthcare staff member) can contact the committee by calling the ACH Hospital Operator (501-364-1100) and asking to page the Bioethics Committee on-call team. A team member will return the page as soon as possible to help you determine whether or not the issue is best handled by the Bioethics Committee; if not, s/he will try to find the best way to address your concern.
You can learn more about the Bioethics Committee, its mission, and processes by contacting either co-chair for the committee, Eldon Schulz, MD or Gary Wheeler, MD, MTS, MPS though the hospital operator.
ACH also has an individual clinical ethics consultant, D. Micah Hester, PhD, on staff who is also available to discuss ethical issues you have. Dr. Hester provides both informal conversations and formal consults for patients, families, or hospital personnel. He can be contacted by paging 501-688 9325 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.