Mithya Lewis-Newby, Mark R Wicclair, Thaddeus Mason Pope, Cynda Rushton, Farr A Curlin, Douglas Diekema, Debbie Durrer, William Ehlenbach, Wanda Gibson-Scipio, Bradford Glavan, Rabbi Levi Langer, Constantine Manthous, Cecile Rose, Anthony Scardella, Hasan Shanawani, Mark D Siegel, Scott D. Halpern, Robert D Truog, Douglas B White
Abstract Rationale: Intensive care unit (ICU) clinicians sometimes have a conscientious objection (CO) to providing or disclosing information about a legal, professionally accepted, and otherwise available medical service. There is little guidance about how to manage COs in ICUs.
Objectives: To provide clinicians, hospital administrators, and policymakers with recommendations for managing COs in the critical care setting.
Methods: This policy statement was developed by a multidisciplinary expert committee using an iterative process with a diverse working group representing adult medicine, pediatrics, nursing, patient advocacy, bioethics, philosophy, and law.
Main Results: The policy recommendations are based on the dual goals of protecting patients’ access to medical services and protecting the moral integrity of clinicians. Conceptually, accommodating COs should be considered a “shield ” to protect individual clinicians’ moral integrity rather than as a “sword” to impose clinicians’ judgments on patients. The committee recommends that: (1) COs in ICUs be managed through institutional mechanisms, (2) institutions accommodate COs, provided doing so will not impede a patient’s or surrogate’s timely access to medical services or information or create excessive hardships for other clinicians or the institution, (3) a clinician’s CO to providing potentially inappropriate or futile medical services should not be considered sufficient justification to forgo the treatment against the objections of the patient or surrogate, and (4) institutions promote open moral dialogue and foster a culture that respects diverse values in the critical care setting.
Conclusions: This American Thoracic Society statement provides guidance for clinicians, hospital administrators, and policymakers to address clinicians’ COs in the critical care setting.
American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics
Abstract Health care professionals may have moral objections to particular medical interventions. They may refuse to provide or cooperate in the provision of these interventions. Such objections are referred to as conscientious objections. Although it may be difficult to characterize or validate claims of conscience, respecting the individual physician’s moral integrity is important. Conflicts arise when claims of conscience impede a patient’s access to medical information or care. A physician’s conscientious objection to certain interventions or treatments may be constrained in some situations. Physicians have a duty to disclose to prospective patients treatments they refuse to perform. As part of informed consent, physicians also have a duty to inform their patients of all relevant and legally available treatment options, including options to which they object. They have a moral obligation to refer patients to other health care professionals who are willing to provide those services when failing to do so would cause harm to the patient, and they have a duty to treat patients in emergencies when referral would significantly increase the probability of mortality or serious morbidity. Conversely, the health care system should make reasonable accommodations for physicians with conscientious objections.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Abstract Health care providers occasionally may find that providing indicated, even standard, care would present for them a personal moral problem-a conflict of conscience particularly in the field of reproductive medicine. Although respect for conscience is important, conscientious refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients, negatively affect a patient’s health, are based on scientific misinformation, or create or reinforce racial or socioeconomic inequalities. Conscientious refusals that conflict with patient well-being should be accommodated only if the primary duty to the patient can be fulfilled. All health care providers must provide accurate and unbiased information so that patients can make informed decisions. Where conscience implores physicians to deviate from standard practices, they must provide potential patients with accurate and prior notice of their personal moral commitments. Physicians and other health care providers have the duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel that they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive services that patients request. In resource-poor areas, access to safe and legal reproductive services should be maintained. Providers with moral or religious objections should either practice in proximity to individuals who do not share their views or ensure that referral processes are in place. In an emergency in which referral is not possible or might negatively have an impact on a patient’s physical or mental health, providers have an obligation to provide medically indicated and requested care.
Gamal I Serour, International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)
Abstract The FIGO Committee for the Ethical Aspects of Human Reproduction and Women’s Health held a combined meeting with the Committee of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive rights to discuss ethical aspects of issues that impact the discipline of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women’s Health. The following document represents the result of that carefully researched and considered discussion. This material is not intended to reflect an official position of FIGO, but to provide material for consideration and debate about these ethical aspects of our discipline for member organizations and their constituent membership.
Extract We reaffirm . . . our most categorical rejection of torture. Likewise, we reiterate our resolute support of the diverse initiatives aimed at investigating the participation of doctors in these unacceptable and condemnable practices, and the sanctioning of these activities within the medical profession and scientific organisations. . . There exists irrefutable proof that, during the 16 years of dictatorship, doctors and other members of the health care professions caused brutal suffering to their peers. Doctors involved in acts of torture are, for the most part, members of the armed forces. The conduct of these professionals is the result of the displacement of their medical vocation by the doctrine of ‘national security’, which conceives of the masses and their social and political organisations as the ‘internal enemy’.
Abstract The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recognizes that there is justification for abortion on medical and nonmedical socioeconomic grounds and that such an elective surgical procedure should be decided upon by the patient and the physician(s) concerned. Ideally, the service should be available to all women on an equitable basis across Canada. CMA has recommended the removal of all references to hospital therapeutic abortion committees as outlined in the Criminal Code of Canada. The Criminal Code would then apply only to the performance of abortion by persons other than qualified physicians or in facilities other than approved or accredited hospitals. The Canadian Medical Association is opposed to abortion on demand or its use as a birth control method, emphasizing the importance of counselling services, family planning facilities and services, and access to contraceptive information. . . the association also supports the position that no hospital, physician or other health care worker should be compelled to participate in the provision of abortion services if it is contrary to their beliefs or wishes. CMA also recommended that a patient should be informed of physicians’ moral or religious views restricting their recommendation for a particular form of therapy.
Extract Throughout the 1 970s and early 1 980s the issue of abortion was causing such concern that, at its 1981 meeting in Halifax, General Council directed the association “to review the situation with respect to therapeutic abortions in Canada”. As part of this review, the Board of Directors decided to go to the grassroots or the association and to ask individual physicians what their opinions were, not only on the procedural aspects of the current legislation, but also on the ethical and moral aspects of terminating a pregnancy. . . . With the help of an outside consultant, we then drew the names of 2000 physicians from the associations membership file to get a statistically valid sample, proportionally representative of our membership by province and by specialty.