UnityPoint Health - Meriter - Ethics Committee

Emergency Department

202 S. Park St.
Madison, WI 53715

12 min Average
Wait
UnityPoint Health - Madison

UnityPoint Health-Meriter Ethics Committee

General Information

Health care ethics focuses on doing the right thing in health care.  Meriter's Ethics Committee is a group of people from diverse backgrounds who work to resolve ethical issues. Members are from Meriter's staff and the community. They may be doctors, nurses, social workers, clergy, lawyers, and more. All members participate in ethics education. 

What is an Ethical Dilemma?

Have you ever had to make a decision, but you weren't sure what the right choice was? Have you ever been in a situation that just didn't seem right? Perhaps someone was suggesting something, but your gut was telling you something else. An ethical dilemma is what happens when someone isn't sure what the right thing to do is. Health care is complex. Sometimes the best choice isn't clear. Examples of ethical dilemmas are:

  • Does the benefit outweigh the risk of a certain plan or procedure?

  • What is the best health care choice for me or my loved one?

  • How do we decide on a plan for someone who can't speak for themselves?

  • What should we do if family members disagree about how to best care for their loved one?

Why have an Ethics Consultation? 

An ethics consultation can help you and your family figure out what decision is right for you. The consultant will listen to your questions and concerns. They will explore your situation from multiple perspectives and talk through your options.  They will make recommendations, but you and your health care team will make the final decision.

What happens when an Ethics Consultant is called? 

Patients, family members, or any member of the health care team can ask to talk to an ethics consultant. 

When you call the consultant, they will talk to you about your concerns and help you figure out the next steps.  Sometimes, that conversation is enough to decide what to do. Other times, more discussion is needed. The consultant may decide an ethics consult meeting with more members of the ethics committee will help.  This meeting will also include other people who are important in your health care decisions such as your health care team and your family. At an ethics consult meeting:

  • An ethics consultant will facilitate the meeting.

  • Ethics Committee members, the health care team, the patient, and/or the family will talk about the ethical concern and possible solutions.

  • The ethics consultant will make sure each person has a chance to speak.

  • The Ethics Committee will make recommendations. 

  • The patient and their health care team will make the final decision. This may happen after the meeting.

  • A follow up discussion or meeting may be planned.

Contacting an Ethics Consultant

To speak to a consultant, please contact the Ethics Committee in one of the ways below. If you are a patient or family member, you can ask someone from your health care team for help.

  1. On weekdays, you may contact the Office of Continuing Professional Development at (608) 417-6538.

  2. Directly contact the Ethics Committee Chair, Karl Nibbelink, MD or Clinical Ethicist, Pageen Manolis Small, MS.

  3. During weekends or nights, clinicians can contact the Nursing Administrative Coordinator (NAC) at pager 129-0151.

Education

The Ethics Committee also provides ethics education to the UnityPoint Health – Meriter community and beyond. The Ethics Committee sponsors an ethics conference each fall. You may contact someone from the Ethics Committee about other education needs.

Resources

Contact the Office of Continuing Professional Development at (608) 417-6538 to request copies of the following: