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Ethics Consultation Service

When difficult treatment choices must be made in health care.

At UC San Diego Health, we believe patients should participate fully in their medical care decisions.

Our doctors and nurses make sure that patients and families understand their treatment choices and their possible outcomes. Patients have a right to accept or refuse treatment options and to receive support in carrying out their decisions.

The Ethics Consultation Service includes a group of diverse professionals at UC San Diego Health and the community. We help health care providers, patients and their loved ones identify and resolve ethical conflicts or uncertainties when making difficult medical decisions.

Each consultant is trained in understanding the needs of diverse populations and is available to assist you.

Who Can Request an Ethics Consultation?

Anyone involved in a patient's care may request a consult, including the patient or the person making decisions on their behalf. This service is free of charge.

What is the First Step?

Talk with your nurses and doctors about your concerns. After speaking with them, if you decide a consultation might be helpful, ask your care provider to contact the ethics consultant on your behalf.

What Happens Next?

After meeting with you and reviewing your case, the ethics consultant will identify the ethical issues involved in your care and any sources of conflict. If needed, the consultant may organize a meeting of all involved parties to try to resolve any conflicts.

If the best course of action cannot be agreed on, they may call a special meeting of the entire Ethics Committee — which oversees the Ethics Consultation Service — to review your case and give recommendations.

This process is confidential. A summary of all discussions and recommendations (which are not binding), will be included in the patient's chart.