The Hospital Ethics Committee (HEC) of the University of Kansas Hospital and its subcommittee, the Pediatric Ethics Committee, serve the entire hospital and medical center community by encouraging and supporting: ethical reflection, mutually respectful dialogue, critical analysis, and most importantly, standards of conduct which reflect this institution’s commitment to patient-centered care.
The Pediatric Ethics Committee (PEC) is a standing sub-committee of the Hospital Ethics Committee. The development of such a committee was recommended in federal legislation (Child Abuse Amendments of 1984: P.S. 98-457) which dealt with so-called “Baby Doe” cases, i.e. treatment abatement decisions regarding the care of imperiled and/or handicapped newborns. The Pediatric Ethics Committee provides consultation in cases involving pediatric patients, works to increase awareness of the developing decision making capacity of children as they develop and mature, and provides education related to ethical issues that may be involved with the health care of infants, children and adolescents. The primary focus of the PEC is to assure ethical treatment of pediatric patients.
The jurisdiction of the Pediatric Ethics Committee includes clinical situations involving infants and children from birth to age eighteen years, unless otherwise emancipated. Occasionally, the PEC is asked to consult in unique situations which may include a fetus or young adult patient. In some cases, joint consultation by the PEC and Hospital (Adult) Ethics Committee is indicated.
A Clinical Ethics Handbook has been prepared by the Hospital Ethics Committee to provide staff with easy access to information about the Committee and its subcommittee, the Pediatric Ethics Committee. It also provides information regarding guidelines and policies that have been adopted by this institution for responding to ethical issues in the care of patients. The Handbook is revised and expanded as needed. Suggestions for revisions or additions are welcome.
There are two sections to the Handbook. Part A includes guidelines and policies adopted by the Hospital Ethics Committee and the Pediatric Ethics Committee. Part B adds guidelines and policies adopted by the University of Kansas Hospital.
Department faculty meet monthly for approximately 90 minutes with 30 resident physicians and their staff of the highly ranked KUMC Family Medicine Residency program. Each session involves ethics analysis and discussion of one or more current cases presented by residents.
Chief Residents and staff in the KU Internal Medicine Residency program collaborate monthly with Department faculty and the Hospital Ethics Committee on an ethics case conference with approximately 25 senior residents. A current case is chosen and presented over the lunch hour for collegial discussion and consultation.
Twice yearly (January and May) the Department of History and Philosophy of Medicine takes responsibility to present at Medicine Grand Rounds. Ethics topics in recent years have included: "Narrative Ethics and Medicine," "First Person Consent Law and Ethics in Organ Donation," and "The Ethics of Futility."