Frequently Asked Questions

Need an Ethics Consult?


Ethics at Saint Francis
Hospital and Medical Center

114 Woodland St
Hartford, Connecticut

What is an Institutional Ethics Committee?
An ethics committee is a multidisciplinary team of administrators, nurses, physicians, social workers, chaplains, other healthcare professionals, and community representatives, whose role it is to provide education, policy review, and case consultation for members of the hospital and community.   

What types of education does the Institutional Ethics Committee provide?
Members of the ethics committee can provide education and training in a wide variety of topics and issues that face healthcare today. Members of the committee also provide community education workshops on making decisions about care and Advance Directives.  See Ethics Events at Saint Francis for information on upcoming education and training events and workshops.

What is an ethics consultation?
An ethics consultation can be viewed like any other consultation in the clinical setting.  If doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, patients, or family members have a question or concern about an ethical issue, they may ask the advice or input of a member of the Institutional Ethics Committee.  

Who can call an ethics consultation?
An ethics consultation can be requested by a patient or family member, and may be called by any member of the healthcare team.   

How do I call for an ethics consultation?
A member of the Ethics Consult Team is always on call. On the Saint Francis campus, simply dial “0” and ask the operator for the “On-Call Ethics Consultant.”  At home, dial 1-877-ST-FRANCIS (783-7262), and ask the operator for the “On-Call Ethics Consultant.”  

What happens when I call an ethics consultation? 
A member of the Institutional Ethics Committee is always on-call to respond to requests for ethics consultations.  The on-call member will speak with the person who requests the consultation. The on-call member may also speak with others who were involved in the situation that precipitated the request, as well as with one or two others from the Institutional Ethics Committee.  The result is a recommendation (and it is just that!), which is written on a form, and placed in the patient’s chart, if applicable.   

Since Saint Francis is a Catholic Hospital, are there certain ethical guidelines that the hospital must follow? 
Yes.  Catholic hospitals and other Catholic healthcare providers are guided by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.  These directives provide guidance on a wide range of issues, including the social responsibility of Catholic healthcare services, forming new partnerships with healthcare organizations and providers, the professional-patient relationship, care at the beginning of life, and care for the seriously ill and dying.  The ethics committee will use the ERDs to help guide their decisions.