The Ethics Committee

Nemours Children's Hospital, Delaware

The Ethics Committee provides medical ethics consultation, ethics education, policy review and encourages ethics research at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware and other Nemours sites in the Delaware Valley.

Ethics Consultation

The Ethics Consult team combines staff members from different departments to help with ethical decision-making — looking at questions like “What is the right thing to do?” in various situations. This consultation team will learn about the situation, hear from key stakeholders and make recommendations with the goal of informing clinical decisions, protecting patient and staff rights, and educating on the ethical issues.

Ethics Education

The Ethics Committee oversees ethics education for Nemours associates in the Delaware Valley. Ethics educational activities at Nemours include our annual Ethics Day and Ethics Grand Rounds with a visiting professor, a monthly Ethics Education noon conference series and monthly Ethics Consultation training.

Policy Review

The Ethics Committee reviews Nemours policies that have ethical implications for the rights of patients and staff. The committee will make recommendations that inform the content of these policies.

Ethics Research

The Ethics Committee brings enthusiastic Nemours associates from many departments together to discuss ethical issues in the practice of pediatric medicine and research. This has led to interesting new questions and collaborations, stimulating scholarship in the area of Pediatric Ethics.

Committee Structure

The Nemours Ethics Committee is comprised of Nemours associates representing a number of departments and specialties, as well as some community membership including family members of patients. Our members include physicians from a number of different pediatric and surgical specialties, and representation from nursing, psychology, social work, pastoral care, legal team, other clinical and nonclinical hospital staff and administration. Our committee include trainees, such as residents and fellows.

The Committee meets monthly, in addition to the educational activities outlined above. 

The Committee has two Co-Chairs, representing physicians and nursing. 

Mindy Fink, MD
Ethics Committee

Dyane Bunnell, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCNS, CPON

Frequently Asked Questions

Types of Questions We Get

Are we doing the right thing for our child?

Do we want our baby to live with a breathing tube?

When can my teen make decisions for herself?

Can I refuse treatment that the doctors are recommending?

How do we decide when we disagree?

Are we doing the right thing for our patient?

What do we do when the medical team disagrees about what to do?

Who can request an ethics consult?

The Ethics Consult team is available to any person involved in the care of the patient, including the patient, the patient’s family or representative, Nemours associates and community medical staff. Ethics consults can also involve research or policy, and so can be requested by anyone involved or impacted by research or policy at Nemours.

When should a request be made? 

It is better to be proactive when managing ethical concerns — many situations would unfold more smoothly if ethics was involved earlier in the process. If you are considering an ethics consult or have questions about the process, please reach out to the ethics team to discuss the situation. We cannot guarantee in-person consultation on an immediate basis, but there is always an ethics consultant available by phone.

How do I make a request? 

To request an ethics consult, contact the Ethics Consult team leader on call. Patients and families can call the hospital operator for information on how to contact the Ethics Consult leader on call. For Nemours associates, the contact information is found on the WebExchange On-Call schedule (search for “Ethics Consult – DE”). 

It is helpful to have the patient’s name and a summary of the ethical concern.

What should I expect from a consult? 

When a consult is requested, the Ethics Consult leader will gather information from the person requesting the consult. The leader will then review the medical chart, and discuss the case with various members of the medical team and family, as appropriate. The leader will review the medical and ethics literature to inform and educate the family and medical team. Depending on the nature of the ethical issue, the consult can progress in a number of ways, but typically the consult leader will bring the Ethics Consult team members together with patient’s family and medical team to discuss the medical and ethical issues and hear all perspectives. The Ethics Consult team will then make recommendations regarding the ethical questions brought up by the case. The consultation is advisory, and final decisions are made by the patient, family and medical team.