By Trudi Galblum
Director of Marketing, Center for Practical Bioethics
Why should hospitals, hospices and healthcare systems invest in clinical ethics consultation services? What benefits might they realize from having a trained bioethicist available on call 24/7 or present in their facility several times a week? How might such an investment pay for itself within a few months or a year?
Few if any studies have been conducted to validate cost savings as a direct result of clinical ethics consultation. It’s difficult to prove a negative – to prove that a bad outcome that did not happen would actually have happened if not for an ethics consultation.
The Center for Practical Bioethics has provided clinical ethics consultation, education and policy guidance for 40 years. Our current clinical ethics practice includes contractual relationships with more than 20 hospitals, hospices and health systems in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Louisiana and California.
From this experience, we have identified THREE ways that clinical ethics consultation services help providers deliver the highest quality of ethical care while saving money.
Helping Sometimes to Move Cases Along. Other times to slow them down.
Some cases need to move faster. Others need to slow down. Discharge dilemmas exemplify the kind of cases that often need to move faster, or at least take time to explore what is the “right thing to do” as opposed to the expedient. In these situations, the patient is medically ready to go home or be transferred to another facility, but the healthcare team can’t find an ethically appropriate way to do it. Often, the hospital won’t be paid for extra days of care.
Other times, cases move along quickly – too quickly because no one is stopping to realize that they’re doing things that could be very risky. Things that could hurt the patient, the program and the facility.
A clinical ethicist on the team can help to identify these situations, move them along or slow them down, and make sure that all stakeholders including risk management are working together to find an ethical solution.
Avoiding Risk and Liability
Risk management can’t be aware of everything that’s happening at the bedside of patients. At the same time, clinicians may not recognize a risky situation where risk management should be brought in.
Having a clinical ethicist who is available and closer to the bedside – who may even be rounding with the team – will see things that may pose a risk for the hospital, system or individuals within it and call attention to them before they cause harm.
Reducing Employee Attrition
Healthcare providers face increasing pressures that can lead to employee burnout:
- Feeling alone in situations that are emotionally hard or require courage.
- Being made responsible or feeling so in situations where they should not be responsible.
- Following orders that cause moral distress.
- Rudeness. Even violence.
Under such conditions, having the support of a clinical ethicist to come alongside the employee can make the difference between retaining a nurse or paying an average of $100,000 to recruit and onboard a new one.
About the Center’s Clinical Ethics Services
The Center for Practical Bioethics’ robust, multi-state clinical ethics practice service options currently range from basic participation in the Center’s Ethics Committee Consortium to inpatient ethics consultation, case review and recommendations, face-to-face family meetings, advance care planning/TPOPP-POLST, and policy development.
We also have contractual relationships to provide bioethics education at the University of Kansas Medical Center and Kansas City University, and we offer customized educational workshops to providers throughout the nation.
To discuss how the Center can help your organization benefit from Clinical Ethics Services, please call:
- Ryan Pferdehirt, D. Bioethics, HEC-C, rpferdehirt@PracticalBioethics.org, 816-979-1350
- Tarris Rosell, DMin, PhD, trosell@PracticalBioethics.org, 816-979-1361