by Joan Chang
Q: What’s a health care ethicist?
A: What we do in the practice of healthcare ethics is help people think through really challenging decisions and situations and figure out what causes that sense of ‘yuck’ that we feel when ethical values are in conflict – our own, or each other’s.
The more official term for the ‘yuck’ factor is moral distress, but ‘yuck’ really tells it the way it is. The problem with the ‘yuck’ feeling is that it’s not always reliable. We may not feel it at all when we should, or the ‘yuck’ might be more emotional than ethical.
Ethical decisions are essentially about trying to figure what is the ‘good’ or ‘right’ thing to do in a situation. Such situations occur every day, and often go unnoticed because they are pretty straightforward. But sometimes they are much more complex.
Thinking through them can be much easier when an objective person helps you. The ethicist can be that objective person – part of, and familiar with, CAMH, but not in the middle of the situation. Read more