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Cultural Engagement in Clinical Ethics: A Model for Ethics Consultation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 March 2001

MICHELE A. CARTER
Affiliation:
The Institute for the Medical Humanities at The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston
CRAIG M. KLUGMAN
Affiliation:
The Institute for the Medical Humanities at The University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

Abstract

In the rapidly evolving healthcare environment, perhaps no role is in greater flux and redefinition than that of the clinical bioethicist. The discussion of ethics consultation in the bioethics literature has moved from an ambiguous concern regarding its proper place in the clinical milieu to the more provocative question of which methods and theories should best characterize the intellectual and practical work it claims to do. The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities addressed these concerns in its 1998 report, Core Competencies for Health Care Ethics Consultation. The report tries to answer the question as to what disciplinary training, background experience, and levels of knowledge in ethics the clinical ethics consultant should have, and what specific skills and character traits the clinical ethics consultant should cultivate. In addition to acquiring knowledge of common bioethical issues, theoretical concepts in ethical theory and moral reasoning, and health-related law and policy, the report also recommends that ethics consultants demonstrate knowledge of the health beliefs and perspectives of patients and healthcare providers. In our opinion, this recommendation underscores a crucial aspect of the practice of ethics consultation in the increasingly multicultural settings of healthcare institutions. Clearly, the dynamic of American life and culture is permeated with diversity and variety as new groups suffuse their own beliefs and faith perspectives into the health sector. New immigrant groups force society to question traditional healthcare practices and to accommodate changing medical needs.

Type
SPECIAL SECTION: CULTURE, HEALTH, AND BIOETHICS: AT THE CROSSROADS
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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