Ethics is the study of moral principles. Moral principles govern how we act and generally inform what we believe to be right or wrong in a given situation. Ethical scenarios come up daily in the news, through business practices, political decisions, and are woven throughout our personal choices.
Ethical scenarios are also common in healthcare – where people are often faced with difficult and complex decisions that leave them struggling to find the best answers. In these situations the ethics service at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre is here to help! The Ethics service is headed by our Bioethicist, Michelle Allain, and supported by the Hospital’s Ethics Committee, which is made up of staff, as well as, Patient and Family Advisors. The role of the service is to help anyone in the organization (eg: patients, families, staff, volunteers, etc.) struggling with an ethical issue. Together they help guide those responsible for making decisions in a supportive way, while keeping in mind ethical principles, as well as, the values of the patient and our organization.
The first week in April is National Health Ethics Week. The Hospital will be joining other health organizations across Canada in reaching out to the community to bring attention to the resources available and to discuss ethical issues and the process for addressing them. Ethics Committee members will be working across the hospital campus with an interactive display, allowing people to evaluate and discuss ethical questions and develop a better understanding of the resources available.
Each year, we ask a question which does not have an obvious right or wrong answer, but which could be decided in many ways, depending on the priorities of the person answering and their personal values and beliefs.
If you would like to join in on our exercise, you can visit tbh.net/ethics to see this year’s question, and submit what you think is the best answer. We’ve also linked some resources there to show how other people might approach the question.