Methods in clinical ethics: a time for eclectic pragmatism?

Clinical Ethics 1 (3):159-164 (2006)
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Abstract

Background Although methods proposed for the conduct of ethics consultation tend to be viewed as competing approaches, they may in fact function in a complementary manner. Methods We describe the experience of ethics consultation in two ethics committees at the University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland. Results Both committees provide case consultation by a multi-disciplinary team of committee members, but with different processes. These differences in process do not necessarily lead to differences in outcome. Discussion Different methods of ethics consultation are not mutually exclusive, and can co-exist within the same institution. The practical application of one method of ethics consultation can lead to substantial variations in process between different groups of consultants. Conclusion Despite the importance of clarifying theoretical groundings, and consultation and deliberation processes, in ethics consultation, choosing between different processes may not be pressing. To assist these choices, exploration of the practical strengths and weaknesses of different methods will be necessary to assist clinical ethicists, and clinical ethics committees, in acquiring a flexible and evidence-based set of approaches to their work

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