The Journal of Medical Humanities and Bioethics

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 101-110

First online:

Professional liability (malpractice) coverage of humanist scholars functioning as clinical medical ethicists

  • Donnie J. SelfAffiliated withDepartments of Humanities in Medicine, Pediatrics and Philosophy, Texas A&M University College of Medicine
  • , Joy D. SkeelAffiliated withMedical College of Ohio

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In contrast to theoretical discussions about potential professional liability of clinical ethicists, this report gives the results of empirical data gathered in a national survey of clinical medical ethicists. The report assesses the types of activities of clinical ethicists, the extent and types of their professional liability coverage, and the influence that concerns about legal liability has on how they function as clinical ethicists. In addition demographic data on age, sex, educational background, etc. are reported. The results show that while nearly one third (28.9%) of the ethicists regularly make recommendations about patient care, only 10.8% of them regularly make entries in the medical record; only approximately half (53.0%) of them are covered by professional liability (malpractice) insurance; and the vast majority (84.3%) of them say that concerns about legal liability do not influence the way they function as clinical ethicists.