Mission Statement

I. Introduction

The creation of an Ethics Advisory Committee reflects awareness of the heightened concern surrounding decision-making for the critically ill child, specifically in the initiation, withholding and withdrawing of treatment.  In May 1983, at the recommendation of the President and Board of Trustees, an ad hocCommittee to Review Issues Related to the Care of Critically Ill Patients was established which reviewed and reported on the various medical, ethical and legal considerations which affect these treatment decisions.  The Committee recommended and the Board of Trustees voted to establish a Hospital Ethics Advisory Committee as a standing committee of the Medical Staff, reporting directly to the Steering Committee and President of the Hospital. 

II. Charge

The Committee serves as a forum for education, discussion and guidance to develop a broadly-based foundation in the Hospital community upon which ethical decisions may be made that will be consistent with the provision of optimal patient care.  Specific functions of the Committee are the following:

  • Designing and implementing an educational program in the ethics of health care, to be available to all members of the Hospital community.

  • Recommending policies and procedures for generic medical/ethical situations, e.g., documentation of decisions to withdraw specific treatment.

  • Being available to provide consultative assistance to physicians, nurses, parents and appropriate others when uncertainty or practical disagreement concerning medical/ethical patient care decisions arise.

  • Reviewing and studying the overall experience of parents, patients and staff, and making recommendations about how best to be fully responsive to their needs in the area of medical/ethical decision-making.

  • Retrospective review of medical records in selected cases where life-sustaining treatment has been foregone and in other medical/ethical situations as the Committee shall determine.  The review shall include evaluation of compliance with applicable hospital policies as well as the appropriateness of such policies.

III. Membership

The President shall appoint the Chairperson.  Members shall be appointed jointly by the President and the Steering Committee.  Appointments shall be for three year periods. 

The Committee shall be multidisciplinary and shall consist of twenty members and two co-chairs, with representatives from Medical Staff, Nursing, Social Services, Administration, Parents and Clergy.  In addition, the Committee may request the advice or assistance of such consultants as it determines necessary.

IV. Meetings 

The Committee shall meet regularly and report periodically to the Steering Committee and the President.  The Committee shall arrange for twenty-four hour emergency availability.

Approved by the Steering Committee:  October 9, 1984  

© 1998-1999 Ethics Advisory Committee 

Updated August 2, 1999  webteam@tch.harvard.edu