Several clinical ethicists from the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine have just published “What Ethical Issues Really Arise in Practice at an Academic Medical Center? A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Clinical Ethics
Consultations from 2008 to 2013″ in HEC Forum.
Not surprisingly, the authors found that “almost half (47.4%) of all patients for whom a consult was requested were in the intensive care unit (ICU) at the time of the request, and 44.2% died in the hospital.”
Surely correlated to this, “end-of-life was noted as an issue in 73.1% of cases.” These percentages might have been even higher. Dozens of additional requests were cancelled because the consult was not requested until the patient was imminently dying and the patient died or was discharged before the consultant was able to respond.
The authors compare their findings to other reported retrospective studies of ethics consults and make some goo observations about lessons learned.