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Bioethics Collaborative

Medical Ethics Committee - Case Consultation

Ethics case consultation is a service offered by the MEC to help physicians, hospital staff, patients, and families examine moral questions that may arise in the care of a patient. Case consultation is designed to help all those involved in the patient's care to understand the situation clearly, identify potential options, and come to a reasonable resolution of the question. Any VMC patient, a patient's family member, guardian or health care agent, or any member of the health care team may request an ethics case consultation at any time, day or night, by contacting a hospital patient care coordinator or chaplain.

To contact a patient care coordinator or chaplain, please call the hospital switchboard at 252-847-4100 and ask for the patient care coordinator or chaplain on call. The patient care coordinator or chaplain will contact the chair of either the Adult Consultation Subcommittee (ACS) or the Pediatric Consultation Subcommittee (PCS). The chair will contact the person requesting the consultation and if a consultation is indicated, he or she will call a meeting of the ACS or PCS, usually within 48 hours of the request. 

The subcommittee members will meet with members of the health care team, members of the patient's family, and the patient (if competent). The chair will convene the meeting, and explain that the purpose of the meeting is to explore the issues posed by the case and to help those involved come to a mutually agreeable resolution of the issues. The case and issues it poses will be presented and followed by open discussion of the issues.

ACS/PCS members will seek to clarify the issues, identify and discuss alternative courses of action, and, if appropriate, suggest a course of action. Any suggestion offered by the ACS/PCS is purely advisory; patients or their surrogates and their health care providers retain the authority to make health care decisions.

For further information about case consultation, contact the Bioethics Collaborative at 252-744-2361.