Which opinion should a clinical ethicist give: Personal viewpoint or professional consensus?
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When clinical ethicists are called upon to give a recommendation regarding patient care, they may be faced with a dilemma of their own. If their own personal opinion is not widely shared, the ethicist will have three options. These include: (1) giving their own opinion; (2) giving the widely shared opinion; and (3) giving both opinions, leaving the physician to select which opinion to accept. The intentions of this article are to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of these three alternatives and to suggest that ethics consultants recognize and deal with this issue. Two cases are presented to explore the limitations of each option. The author suggests that when the views of ethics consultants differ from the consensus view, the consultant should give the consensus view, their own dissenting view and the arguments in support of each position.
Key wordsclinical ethics ethicist ethics consultation referral
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