a1 George Mason University College of Nursing & Health Science and works extensively with bioeth- ics committees and consultants in establishing and improving clinical bioethics services
Last year, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for the first time included provisions in its Hospital Accreditation Manual requiring institutions to have mechanisms in place to consider ethical issues arising in the care of patients and to educate care givers and patients on bioethical issues. This new requirement is notably vague. There is no indication of what type of mechanisms would be appropriate or how those involved in considering ethical issues should conduct themselves. This vagueness is by no means accidental, but it reflects a recognition that clinical bioethics is still in its formative stages and that there are currently almost as many different mechanisms for dealing with bioethical issues in the healthcare setting as there are institutions that have such mechanisms. The Joint Commission's action, however, also implies that the time for experimentation will soon be over.