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Challenging misconceptions about clinical ethics support during COVID-19 and beyond: Role, remit and representation

Brierley, Joe; Archard, Dave; Cave, Emma

Challenging misconceptions about clinical ethics support during COVID-19 and beyond: Role, remit and representation Thumbnail


Authors

Joe Brierley

Dave Archard



Abstract

The pace of change and, indeed, the sheer number of clinical ethics committees (not to be confused with research ethics committees) has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Committees were formed to support healthcare professionals and to operationalise, interpret and compensate for gaps in national and professional guidance. But as the role of clinical ethics support becomes more prominent and visible, it becomes ever more important to address gaps in the support structure and misconceptions as to role and remit. The recent case of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust v MX, FX and X ([2020] EWHC 1958 (Fam), [21]-[23] and [58]) has highlighted the importance of patient / family representation at clinical ethics committee meetings. The court viewed these meetings as making decisions about such treatment. We argue that this misunderstands the role of ethics support, with treatment decisions remaining with the clinical team and those providing their consent. The considered review by clinical ethics committees of the moral issues surrounding complex treatment decisions is not a matter of determining a single ethical course of action. In this article, we consider current legal understandings of clinical ethics committees, explore current concepts of ethics support and suggest how they may evolve, considering the various mechanisms of the inclusion of patients and their representatives in ethics meetings which is not standard in the UK.

Citation

Brierley, J., Archard, D., & Cave, E. (2021). Challenging misconceptions about clinical ethics support during COVID-19 and beyond: Role, remit and representation. Journal of Medical Ethics, 47(8), 549-552. https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-107092

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 21, 2021
Online Publication Date Apr 21, 2021
Publication Date 2021-08
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 11, 2021
Journal Journal of Medical Ethics
Print ISSN 0306-6800
Electronic ISSN 1473-4257
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 47
Issue 8
Pages 549-552
DOI https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2020-107092
Publisher URL https://jme.bmj.com/content/47/8/549.info

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Accepted Journal Article (661 Kb)
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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Copyright Statement
© Authors (or their employer(s)) 2021. Reuse of this manuscript version (excluding any databases,
tables, diagrams, photographs and other images or illustrative material
included where a another copyright owner is identified) is permitted
strictly pursuant to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non
Commercial 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/







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