Program in Clinical Ethics and Patients Care

Program Leader: Rebecca Anderson, J.D., M.S.

This program recruits, trains and manages ethics consultants for the Nebraska Medical Center's Ethics Consultation Service.  Consultants, who are on call for a week at a time, help resolve ethical questions raised by providers, patients and family members concerning care at University hospitals and clinics.  On occasion, program members provide consultation for outside providers or agencies. 

Several program members serve on the University's Institutional Review Board and on the Medical Center's Medical Ethics Committee where they help draft medical policy, and provide continuing education modules for committee members.  Ms. Anderson serves as the ethics consultant to the liver-bowel-pancreas transplant team, and on the NMC and Douglas County committees for pandemic triage and altered standards of care.

Program members also respond to contemporary societal issues in clinical ethics.  For example, Dr. Schonfeld responded to news media inquiries concerning a proposed kidney transplant for an incarcerated patient.  Ms. Anderson prepared and presented scholarly analyses of the Terri Schiavo case and the proposed Humane Care Amendment to the Nebraska Constitution.  She fielded news media inquiries concerning end of life issues relating to Schiavo and Pope John Paul II.  Dr. Aita received national publicity for her collaboration with Dr. William Lydiatt and Scottish portrait artist Mark Gilbert in "Portraits of Care," an exploration of personal image and identity within the medical setting.

In addition, program personnel are conducting surveys in Nebraska and Michigan to assess the degree of satisfaction among providers and patients with the state-promulgated genetic testing consent forms in those states. A parallel activity, under the auspices of the American College of Medical Genetics, is the development of a consent form template which can be used nationally by all providers of genetic testing and screening.  

Ongoing activities in medical ethics education include multiple classes for medical residents, medical students, nursing students, allied health students and public health students; workshops held on campus six times a year for employees interested in completing Advance Directives; twice-yearly presentations on end-of-life issues for oncology nurses; and several presentations for the annual Clinical Research Symposia.