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What is healthcare ethics?

Healthcare ethics is a thoughtful exploration of how to act well and make morally good choices, based on ethical principles and values.

Clinical practice is full of ethically challenging situations and decisions about medical treatments that involve moral principles, religious beliefs, or professional guidelines.

What is ethical decision-making?

Ethical decision-making is the process of making “good" or sometimes the “least worst" choice in ethically challenging situations.  Ethical decision-making is a reason giving and a reason seeking process. We should be able to know and explain why we do what we do.

What are some common ethical questions?

As a healthcare organization, we face difficult decisions and seek to provide extraordinary care. There are times we face ethical situations and some examples include:

  • What should family members and healthcare professionals do if there is a disagreement regarding what treatments are best for patients such as when to start, continue or stop life-sustaining treatments like breathing machines or feeding tubes?
  • Who should make care decisions for patients when they are unable to communicate or decided for themselves?

What should I do if I need ethics advice?

The Ethics Consultation Service is available to provide ethics advice to those directly involved in a situation that has created ethical questions.

Anyone directly involved in a situation that raises ethical questions may request an ethics consultation. Therefore, ethics consultations or discussions on ethical problems may be requested by any member of the heath care team or persons receiving care, or by patients' families or significant others.

Ethics consultation is an advisory service, and will offer advice but will not make a decision for you. Patients, family members, and professionals remain responsible for their own decisions. Ethics Consultation are available Monday to Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. If it is after business hours or on weekends leave a message and someone from Professional Practice will get back to you the next business day.

The deliberations and the proceedings of the Ethics Consultation Service are strictly confidential (unless disclosure is required by law).

Request an ethics consultation by contacting Professional Practice through Niagara Health switchboard at 905-378-4647 or email

Niagara Health