Dr. Evelina Sterling has a new article in The Journal of Clinical Ethics
(Jun 24, 2020) — How Much Volume Should Healthcare
Ethics Consult Services Have?
Avery C. Glover, Thomas V. Cunningham,
Evelina W. Sterling, and Jason Lesandrini
No standard method exists to assess how many consults a healthcare ethics consultation (HCEC) service should
perform. To address this, we developed a method to estimate
the volume of HCEC services based on a mixed-methods
approach that included a systematic review and survey data
on the volume of consult services requested.
Our investigation included a systematic review of studies that reported the volume of HCEC services that were requested from 2000 to 2017, institutional surveys, and statisti
cal analyses that estimated the volume of HCEC services
that were adjusted to the size of the hospitals in the survey
and to population acuity.
We contacted the authors of 19 studies that met our
inclusion criteria; 17 authors responded to the institutional
survey and five provided annualized data points. We found
that standard methods of reporting the volume of HCEC services led to inaccuracies in estimating the growth of HCEC
services over time. To rectify this, we proposed two means to
estimate volume based on either the service goals of HCEC
services or hospital size and acuity.
The statistical limitations of our study highlight the need
to standardize the sharing and reporting of data in clinical
ethics. Future work should further standardize methods of
HCEC quality assessment using measures similar to those
The Journal of Clinical Ethics is not an open access journal. If you subscribe, you can search for Dr. Sterling's article.