Hospital Ethics Committees as the Forum of Last Resort: An Idea Whose Time Has Not Come
Robin Fretwell Wilson
University of Illinois College of Law
North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 2, 1998
Hospital Ethics Committees have become a fixture in American medicine and are poised to become the forum of last resort for end-of-life decisions as a result of state statutes giving committees immunity and privilege. The effect of such legislation is to transform ethics committees from an adjunct to the courts into a substitute for them, without giving patients any of the process protections attendant to judicial decisionmaking. In this Article, Professor Wilson provides a critical comparison of ethics committees to courts and concludes that contrary to the conventional wisdom of the ethics committee movement, it is unclear that hospital ethics committees are innately better suited to make end-of-life decisions than state and federal courts.
JEL Classification: D7, D8, I1
Date posted: March 9, 1999
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