Ethical issues in health care pose some of the most challenging situations that health professionals face. Medical technological advancements as well as legislative initiatives create new ethical challenges for health professionals and their patients. Catawba Valley Medical Center decided to help meet this need by creating the Patient Rights Committee. The committee is chaired by Greg Billings, Administrator of the Psychiatric department and includes an interdisciplinary group of healthcare professionals.

The committee has identified three main objectives for its future work:

  1. Initiate, coordinate, and prioritize compliance efforts to all applicable patient rights regulations.
  2. Ethics consultation process oversight.
  3. Staff/customer education on ethics and patient rights issues.

 The structure of the committee will consist of three main subdivisions:

  1. Regulation Compliance; Greg Billings, Administrator Psychiatry, Patty Griffin, Director Health Information Systems, Sherry Hardee, Administrator Surgical Suite, and Van Haygood, Administrator Emergency Services
  2. Ethics; Megan Lee, Director Risk Management, Jimmy Phillips, Director Respiratory Therapy, Bill Ratcliff, Case Manager Rehab., John Robbins, Pastoral Care
  3. Staff/Pt Education; Adina Andreu, Administrator Women’s and Children’s Services, Peggy Brown/Tiffany Chapman, Catawba Valley Medical Group, Marea Pinto, Social Work, and Patty Tucker, Organizational Learning

Educating nursing staff on ethical issues has already begun. A program designed to introduce ethical principles, ethical issues and dilemmas, and specifics on CVMC policies addressing ethical situations began with nursing leadership. Each nurse leader was given a copy of American Nurses Association Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements. The education provided recommendations for addressing ethical situations and dilemmas with direct care nursing staff.  Guidance was offered on the use of the code of ethics and on the process to convene an ethics consultation at CVMC. The program not only provides didactic material but also involves participants in discussions of ethical case studies geared towards utilizing the information provided in the program and stimulating thought and discussion.

This program was provided for all the members of the newly formed Patient Rights Committee, participants of CNIP, and is now being offered to direct care staff.