Office of Healthcare Ethics
The Office of Healthcare Ethics (OHE) is a department within Nebraska Medicine that works improve the quality of health care through the identification, analysis, and resolution of ethical questions or concerns.
The OHE provides ethics expertise to physicians, nurses and all other staff, and to patients and families through:
- managing the Ethics Consultation Service, which helps patients, families, physicians and staff navigate difficult or complex situations;
- advising the Healthcare Ethics Committee;
- offering educational opportunities to employees;
- reviewing organizational policy and guidelines; and
- providing peer support for staff.
Ethics Consultation Service
Everyone, whether a patient or physician, family member or nurse, has the right to request an ethics consultation. The Ethics Consultation Service takes a compassionate, multidisciplinary approach, and seeks the input of all who care for the patient.
Ethics consultants are available to assist with the following:
- complex or complicated medical decision-making, including goals of care and informed consent;
- situations involving non-beneficial treatments, or questions about medical futility;
- surrogate decision makers for a patient, including for children, socially isolated, or unrepresented patients, or when the patient’s wishes are unknown or unclear;
- limitation, withholding, or withdrawing of treatments, including those at or near the end of life;
- assessment of capacity to consent or refuse treatments;
- assistance with conflicting or differing cultural or religious beliefs;
- questions or concerns about the appropriateness of some treatments or therapies;
- completion, interpretation or application of advance directives;
- use of scarce or expensive resources; and
- issues related to confidentiality.
Nebraska Medicine’s clinical ethicists do not tell people what to do in these situations; rather they help to provide a safe, neutral space to explore the ethical aspects of health care decisions, and help to ensure that patients’ rights are respected.
An ethicist is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For a clinical ethics consultation, call 402.552.3647, or page 402.888.ETHC (888-3842). You may also call the Nebraska Medicine operator at 800.922.0000, ask to speak with the ethicist on call.
Healthcare Ethics Committee
The purpose of the Healthcare Ethics Committee is to reinforce, clarify, and promote Nebraska Medicine’s organizational, business, and clinical practices and policies that reflect our mission, values, domains, and strategies. It primarily aims to:
• be a reliable, visible and accessible healthcare ethics resource for the organization;
• provide a forum for the respectful resolution of organizational ethics conflicts, with attention to the interest, rights, and responsibilities of those involved; and
• promote clinical and organizational practices consistent the Organizational Code of Ethics.
The Healthcare Ethics Committee has broad representation throughout the organization, including clinical and non-clinical staff, administrative, ancillary, and a non-staff community membership.