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Clinical Ethics

Medical Ethics for Quality Healthcare

When a critical medical situation becomes difficult and complex, it may be helpful to discuss the issues with trained professionals who are not involved with the immediate situation.

If you or your loved one is experiencing an ethical dilemma, the Clinical Ethics Committee of Island Hospital is available to help. Our team of specially trained consultants offers expertise combined with special attention to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of those involved.


Role of Clinical Ethics Committee

When you approach the Committee for assistance, you can be sure that all information you provide will be kept in the strictest confidence.  While the Committee provides guidance and may provide recommendations, actual decisions regarding medical care are left to the patient, family member and/or guardian, and the physician.

Our role is defined as follows:

  • To assist patients, families and healthcare professionals in defining and evaluating the ethical aspects of a particular medical situation.
  • To encourage the integration of ethical considerations and responsibilities with patient-care decisions and education.
  • To facilitate discussions of ethical issues related to healthcare.
  • To provide community education resources on ethical matters that affect healthcare.


Accessing the Committee 

Any member of the medical staff, hospital staff, patient or person with the hierarchy of consent* may request a consultation by the Committee. The Committee maintains a call system and the Nursing Coordinator can access the committee members to convene a consult at any time. Concerns can also be discussed with the hospital Social Worker, who will notify the Nursing Coordinator. The Nursing Coordinator can be reached at (360) 299-1321.

*The hierarchy of consent is defined as patient or:

  • The appointed guardian
  • The individual to whom the patient has given durable power of attorney encompassing the authority to make healthcare decisions
  • The patient's spouse
  • The patient's children who are at least eighteen (18) years of age
  • The patient's parents
  • The patient's adult brother(s) and/or sister(s)


When Ethical Conflicts Arise


Conflict, end-of-life issues and family dynamics can seem greater in the midst of a health crisis. Decisions about medical care are never easy, but as the issues become more complex, you may feel ill-equipped to sort out the ethical aspects of a situation, and unable to make the right decisions. The Clinical Ethics Committee is a complimentary service and is here to help you.


Our Clinical Ethics Committee

The Clinical Ethics Committee at Island Hospital is comprised of professionals from many disciplines, including nursing, medicine, mental health, spiritual care, social services, ethics, law and business.

Each has a special interest in analyzing real-life situations in the context of maintaining the highest ethical standards for medical care.