American Journal of Bioethics.

Ethical Challenges Within Veterans Administration Healthcare Facilities: Perspectives of Managers, Clinicians, Patients, and Ethics Committee Chairpersons

To promote ethical practices, healthcare managers must understand the ethical challenges encountered by key stakeholders. To characterize ethical challenges in Veterans Administration (VA) facilities from the perspectives of managers, clinicians, patients, and ethics consultants. We conducted focus groups with patients (n = 32) and managers (n = 38); semi-structured interviews with managers (n = 31), clinicians (n = 55), and ethics committee chairpersons (n = 21). Data were analyzed using content analysis. Managers reported that the greatest ethical challenge was fairly distributing resources across programs and services, whereas clinicians identified the effect of resource constraints on patient care. Ethics committee chairpersons identified end-of-life care as the greatest ethical challenge, whereas patients identified obtaining fair, respectful, and caring treatment. Perspectives on ethical challenges varied depending on the respondent’s role. Understanding these differences can help managers take practical steps to address these challenges. Further, ethics committees seemingly, are not addressing the range of ethical challenges within their institutions.

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Volume 9, Issue 4
April 2009