Spectrum Health Ethics Consultation Service

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When you need help making difficult decisions about medical treatment for yourself or a loved one, look to Spectrum Health’s Ethics Consultation Service.

What is an ethics consultation?
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During an ethics consultation, you’ll receive support, understanding and assistance. You will work with an ethics professional dedicated to helping you, your family and your care team resolve ethical issues related to care.

Why should I request a consultation?
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In health care, patients and families often face the difficult and uncertain question of “what treatment choices should be made?” The best choice for one may not be the best choice for another. 

Here are some questions others have asked: 

“I have to make a serious decision about a treatment that could affect how long I may live. After talking it over with my health care team, I am still not sure I agree with the doctor’s recommendation.” 

“My mother is too sick to make her own decisions. How do I know what is best for her now?” 

“Our family is unsure and upset. We don’t agree about the right thing to do for our brothers care.” 

Our Spectrum Health care team is there to help you navigate these tough decisions. However, if you are still not sure about what is right or what should be done, you may wish to request an ethics consultation.

When should I request a consultation?
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Spectrum Health patients and their family members can request an ethics consultation at any time. Requesting an ethics consultation reflects the challenges that can arise when values and beliefs about the appropriate medical path forward for those involved with direct care of the patient hold differing views about what needs to be done.

You may find an ethics consultation helpful when you face: 

  • Disagreement or uncertainty about the patient’s preferences 
  • Differing values among family members, the patient, and the patient’s care team (e.g., living a greater quality of life for fewer days vs. living more days with a lower quality of life) 
  • Decisions about starting, continuing or ending life-sustaining treatments, such as breathing machines and feeding tubes 
  • Uncertainty about who should make medical decisions for the patient 
  • Moral distress about treatment decisions 
  • Unclear or strained communication among family members, the patient and the patient’s care team
What can I expect?
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If you place the call for an ethics consultation and you’re an individual we are permitted to speak with, we will support your request which will include the following:

  • A comprehensive review of the patient’s current medical course of treatment
  • Review of the patient’s treatment options, and their benefits and burdens
  • Discussion about patient and family members’ values, wishes, goals, hopes and fears 

You may receive recommendations and suggestions, but we will not tell you or your doctors what to do. It’s up to your care team to present medical recommendations.

Additional help

See who can help with other issues you may encounter:

  • Compliments and Complaints – Talk to the nurse supervisor or our Patient Relations Department
  • Financial questions – Contact our financial counselors
  • Legal advice – Contact your personal attorney
  • Medical opinions – Consult with your doctor
  • Spiritual advice or support – Contact our chaplains or your spiritual leader
Other helpful resources

Request an Ethics Consultation

Consultations are complimentary. There is no charge for an ethics consultation at Spectrum Health.