Ethics Support Services

Resolving ethical questions about your care

About Our Ethics Support Committee

At Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Plymouth, we work hard to treat you as a whole person. Giving you the best care includes meeting your emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

At times, you may have ethical questions. Members of our Ethics Support Committee (ESC) provide thoughtful advice to you and your family, and your care team.

While consulting with you, we serve to analyze, identify and resolve any ethical concerns.

At BID Plymouth, the ESC is a multidisciplinary group of staff members led by a trained physician-ethicist. The committee meets regularly to review cases and develop educational initiatives for hospital staff and the greater Plymouth community.

Examples of common issues the committee reviews include:

  • Assisting in decisions about foregoing life-sustaining treatment.
  • Helping to evaluate a patient's competence.
  • Help identifying morally appropriate treatment options.
  • Clarifying patient or family preferences of values.

Request an Ethics Consultation

To request an ethics consultation:

Please note that the Ethics Support Committee does not address billing questions or complaints.

For billing questions, call Financial Services at 508-830-2046. For complaints, call the Patient Advocate at 508-830-2521.

Ethics Support Committee

The BID Plymouth Ethics Support Committee is a physician-led group including members from the following disciplines:

  • Nursing Leadership
  • Hospitalist Medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Nutrition Services
  • Social Work
  • Hospice
  • Spiritual Care

Common Questions About Clinical Ethics

Get answers to common questions about clinical ethics.

What is a clinical ethics consultation?

Making patient care decisions in a complex medical environment is not easy. Ethical questions can arise, such as:

  • When a patient has lost the capacity to make decisions.
  • When there is uncertainty about who should make decisions for the patient.
  • When it is unclear whether the burdens of treatment are worth the expected benefits.
  • When values appear to conflict.

Our ethics committee’s consultative service provides supportive advice for patients, families and the health care team. The committee helps analyze, identify and resolve ethical dilemmas.

Who can request a clinical ethics consultation?

Patients, families, doctors, nurses, chaplains, social workers or anyone involved in a particular case can request an ethics consultation.

What happens in a clinical ethics consultation?

An ESC member reviews each request. If a full consult is needed, committee members take a more thorough look at the situation. Two committee members — one physician and one non-physician — review each case. Meetings with care team members, the patient and family may occur. A formal consult note is placed in the patient’s file by the physician ethics consultant.

Can I get an 'informal consult'?

Yes. Sometimes a concern is simply a communication problem. An ESC member determines if the situation can be resolved without a full consultation. An example would be when a primary medical team has a simple ethical question and is unsure if the case needs a formal ethics consult.

Does the ESC offer other types of consultative service?

Yes. The ESC may review a concern and offer guidance if a doctor or staff member has an ethical question about a hospital policy or practice. Such inquiries are managed on a case-by-case basis.

How do I request an ethics consultation?

Patients and family members can request a consultation from the ESC.