Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Special Section: Healthcare Ethics Committees and Consultants: The State of the Art

Ethics without Walls: The Transformation of Ethics Committees in the New Healthcare Environment

Kate T. Christensena1 and Robin Tuckera2

a1 An internist with the Permanente Medical Group in Northern California. She is also the regional ethics coordinator for the Group, and in that capacity organizes educational forums, conducts research, and provides leadership for the ethics activities for the Northern California region of Kaiser Permanente.

a2 A member of Kaiser Permanente Consulting in the Northern California region where she provides project management, strategic analysis, and consulting services.

As the structure of healthcare delivery undergoes a breathtaking transformation, many ethics committees are wondering how and if they will be affected. Although the impact has not yet been widely felt, hospital-based ethics committees cannot avoid the pressures and upheaval caused by the reorganization of healthcare. This article will briefly review some of the factors contributing to the transformation of medicine, and suggest a number of ways in which ethics committees can respond proactively.