Ethics Consultations

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’s an Ethics Consultation?

During an ethics consultation, you’ll receive support, understanding and assistance. Work with a professional dedicated to helping you, your family and your care team resolve ethical issues related to care.

When to Request a Consultation

Spectrum Health patients and their family members can request an ethics consultation at any time. Requesting an ethics consultation does not mean that someone has done something wrong.

You may find an ethics consultation helpful when you face:
• Decisions about starting, continuing or ending life-sustaining treatments, such as breathing machines and feeding tubes
• 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)
• Difficult decisions that are influenced by religious or cultural traditions
• Disagreement or uncertainty about the patient’s preferences
• Moral distress about treatment decisions
• Uncertainty about who should make treatment decisions for a patient
• Unclear or strained communication among family members, the patient and the patient’s care team

What to Expect

Your consultation will depend on your unique situation and concerns. It may include:
• Review of the patient’s medical record
• 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 you and your care team to make decisions.

After Your Consultation

Afterward, find a summary of the consultation in the patient’s medical record.

Consultations are Free

There’s no charge for ethics consultations at Spectrum Health.

Help for Other Issues

See who can help with other issues you may encounter:
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