Ethics Consultation Service

The Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, on behalf of the Georgetown University Hospital Ethics Committee, conducts the clinical Ethics Consultation Service to assist staff, patients and families. The core faculty of the Center has training and experience in both patient care and in ethics. They work closely with the whole hospital staff, including the Departments of Pastoral Care and Social Work, and conduct ethics consults from a team approach.

The Ethics Consultation Service

Clinical Ethics Consultants:

G. Kevin Donovan, MD, MA
K.N. Sivasubramanian, MD
Lawrence Prograis, Jr., MD
Sarah Vittone, RN, MA
James Duffy, SJ, MD
Kevin Fitzgerald, SJ, PhD

Click here to view Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (Fifth Edition), published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

What is an ethics consult?

Making decisions amid all the complexities of modern medicine is not easy. Ethical questions can arise, for instance, when a patient has lost the capacity to make decisions, when it is not clear whether the burdens of a treatment are worth the expected benefits, or when values appear to conflict. The Ethics Consultation Service is an advisory service that is designed to assist patients, families and all health care professionals in identifying, analyzing and resolving ethical dilemmas.

No fees are charged for this service and all consults are kept strictly confidential.

How does one request a consult?

The Ethics Consult can be initiated by calling the Ethics Consultation Service pager number at: (202)405-3959. Other options to reach the service are through the office at (202)687-1122 or the Hospital Page Operator: (202)444-PAGE (7243).

The Ethics Consultation Service is on-call 24 hours daily. 

One of the clinical ethicists will be on-call each week. Upon receiving a request for a consult, the ethicist will make initial inquiries and arrange for a consult meeting that is appropriate to the needs of the parties involved in the case.

Who can request an initial consult?

Doctors, patients, nurses, chaplains, social workers, or anyone involved in the case are encouraged to call us for assistance.

What happens in an ethics consult?

A clinical ethicist will review each request to see if a full consult is warranted. Sometimes, for instance, the concern may only represent a communication problem. A full consult will generally involve a meeting of several ethicists, the health care team, the patient, and/or the patient's family as appropriate. The consultants do not judge the quality of patient care or make decisions. They help to facilitate a discussion and clarify the issues in making an important decision.

For further information

Edmund D. Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics
Room 234, Building D
Georgetown University Medical Center
4000 Reservoir Rd. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007

(202)687-1122 telephone
(202)687-8955 facsimile