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Nursing at MMC

Clinical Ethics Committee

In 2002, the Nursing Ethics Council was one of the original councils to establish the Nursing Shared Governance Model.  Around the same time, a Clinical Ethics Committee was developing and trying to establish their role in the institution and with patient care.  Very few nurses were able to participate on the Clinical Ethics Committee.  The Shared Governance Model opened the door for nursing to establish a Nursing Ethics Committee.

A Nurse Ethicist Consultant facilitated the development of the Nursing Ethics Committee to raise, focus and establish a forum for nurses to discuss ethical concerns.  The consultant served as a teacher and role model.  The Nursing Ethics Committee addressed learning how to raise and address ethical issues, the members came from a pool of volunteers with an interest in ethics, and the leadership was comprised of a staff nurse and an advanced practice nurse who had been an ongoing member of the Clinical Ethics Committee. 

The Nursing Ethics Committee led many educational offerings and conducted a house-wide Ethics Assessment Survey.  Over time, there was increased interest by both the Clinical Ethics Committee and the Nursing Ethics Council to join forces and become a truly interdisciplinary ethics committee for the hospital. 

During the summer of 2005, both committees agreed to this joint venture and attended an all-day retreat.  The attendees agreed this new committee would retain the name of "Clinical Ethics Committee." 

A physician and advanced practice nurse co-chair the Clinical Ethics Committee.  Nursing comprises almost 50% of the membership and nursing is actively engaged in the strategic planning of the committee work, identification of case presentations, nursing unit ethics rounds with the Nurse Ethicist Consultant and development of an ethics consultation team. 

In May of 2005, an Ethicist was hired who has established the Office of Healthcare Ethics at Maine Medical Center.  He serves as the Director of the Office of Ethics, conducts education and provides clinical consultation throughout the hospital taking referrals from all clinicians.

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