Ethics Committee

Sometimes patients, families and staff have very difficult choices and ethical questions they need to talk about. Discussions with the Ethics Committee can be helpful and reassuring when a difficult choice must be made (for example, questions on end-of-life care, allocating scarce resources or confidentiality). The Ethics Committee is here to help when facing these choices and questions.

What is the Ethics Committee?

The University of Michigan Hospital and Health Centers Ethics Committee advisory groups are appointed by the Hospital's Office of Clinical Affairs. They review ethical or moral questions that may come up during an adult patient's care. Committee members include doctors, nurses, and social workers as well as a lawyer, a chaplain, a medical ethics professional, and a member of the community. They are available to meet with patients and families, doctors, nurses, and other members of the health care team when difficult decisions need to be made. The committee's goal is to help everyone decide the right thing to do. (There is a similar committee for pediatric care at the University of Michigan Mott Hospital, called the Pediatric Ethics Committee )

Why does the medical center have an Ethics Committee?

The Ethics Committee gives advice on moral questions in clinical care, educates clinical staff and the public on issues in medical ethics, and develops policies related to patient care.

What happens when a meeting with the Ethics Committee is requested?

Any health care team member, patient, or patient family member may request a consultation.

The patient's medical situation and treatment options are reviewed. In addition, concerns and feelings of the patient, family members, and the health care team are reviewed. Members of the committee may meet with patients, families and medical personnel to discuss these concerns.

Ethics Committee members discuss the information which has been gathered.

The Ethics Committee makes suggestions about the best course of action. Often there are a number of options available in the course of a patient's care. Final decisions are made by the patient, family and the health care team.

Request a Consult

What should I do if I want to meet with the Ethics Committee?

If you’d like to meet with the Adult Ethics Committee, the first step is to contact the group in one of two ways:

  • If you feel comfortable doing so, ask a member of the patient’s health care team to contact the AEC.
  • If you’d rather contact the AEC directly, call the Ethics line at 734-615-1379. You can also call the main hospital at 734-936-4000 and ask them to page the clinical ethicist on call;  Someone will get back to you promptly.

For more information on the Clinical Ethics program please visit our website here.