Ethics Consultation Service

MedStar Washington Hospital Center has an active Ethics Consultation Service and a Bioethics Committee.

The Ethics Consultation Service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anyone in the hospital may request a consult, even anonymously. Patients, their families, and caregivers are sometimes faced with complex ethical issues related to medical care. Ethics consultants may assist with difficult questions such as:

  • What are my options for making my health care values and preferences clear, such as in a living will or durable power of attorney?
  • What can I do when my health care values and those of my physician are in conflict?
  • When is it justifiable to withdraw life-sustaining therapies?
  • How can I best respect a patient’s interests at the end of life? What are the differences in end of life options, including those related to code status, palliative care, comfort care, and hospice?
  • What are my rights and responsibilities, given my position in the health care of the patient?

The treating physicians, nurses, and social worker can provide guidance on these issues. If you need further assistance, the Ethics Consultation Service can be paged at 202-801-1005. An ethicist will promptly return all calls.

In addition to the Ethics Consultation Service, MedStar Washington Hospital Center has a multidisciplinary Bioethics Committee which meets once a month to discuss ethical issues that affect hospital staff, patients, and patients’ families and loved ones. Our members include ethicists, lawyers, social workers, nurses, physicians, spiritual care, administrators, and community members. The Committee reviews complex cases, provides continuing education on topical issues in clinical ethics, remains apprised of the John J. Lynch, MD Center for Ethics’ activities and consultation record, and contributes to educational and policy initiatives throughout the hospital.