All About Hospital Ethics Services

Session 1   |   Session 2  |   Session 3

Contemporary health care institutions must have functioning, competent ethics services. The Florida Bioethics Network (FBN), in conjunction with expert faculty from the University of Florida and the University of Miami, is hosting a three-part workshop to support and improve operations of such services. The workshop, suitable for both new and more experienced members, will address the essentials of ethics consultations, institutional policies and applicable state laws, and educational initiatives. It will include guidance on managing difficult cases and institutional challenges.

 Structure and format

The Zoom-based workshop will consist of three, 75-minute sessions. Each session will include opportunities for questions directed to expert workshop faculty and for networking.

Accessing the Workshop

Registrants will receive a Zoom link for access to the sessions.


Ray Moseley, PhD, University of Florida, FBN Founder
Ken Goodman, PhD, University of Miami, FBN Director

Topics and schedule

Session 1: Ethics service mission, structure, and function

Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 4.00-5:15 p.m.

Session 2: Withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment; futility; family challenges

Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 4.00-5:15 p.m.

Session 3: Informed consent challenges; incapacitated patients; surrogates, proxies and guardians

Thursday, May 20, 2021 | 4:00-5:15 p.m.

About the FBN

Founded 30 years ago, the Florida Bioethics Network is one of the oldest and largest bioethics networks in the country. It is committed to education and to identifying practical solutions to daily challenges faced by Florida hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes. For more information, including individual and institutional membership, visit or email

Session details

All sessions will focus on practical advice and on participant discussions, questions for course faculty, and networking opportunities. Conference enrollment will be limited to maximize these goals.

Session 1: Ethics service mission, structure, and function, Thursday, May 6, 2021 | 4.00-5:15 p.m. | Slides
Ethics committees are not like most hospital committees.  This fact is often the cause of under-appreciation of the effort required of ethics committee members and of the institutional support needed by a functioning ethics committee.  In fact, a fully functioning ethics committee is appropriately termed a “Clinical Ethics Service.”  Ethics committee members require training/education; this is especially true for members who participate in clinical ethics consultations.  Ethics committees should engage in staff and community education, review relevant policies, and support a 24/7 clinical ethics consult function.  This session will discuss membership issues (who should be on the committee, privacy issues, conflicts of interest, etc.), how to structure a staff educational program and a clinical ethics consult service, and how best to run an ethics meeting.  The practical value of an effective ethics service – and how best to articulate that value – to institutions, colleagues, and patients will also be addressed.

Session 2: Withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment; futility; family challenges, Thursday, May 23, 2021 | 4.00-5:15 p.m. | Slides
The most common ethical issues that ethics services address revolve around the end of life, including withdrawal of life sustaining treatment, Advance Directives, and requests to provide futile care and treatments. Addressing these issues requires a combination of knowledge and skills, including an understanding of the legal framework in Florida and how to help physicians and family understand patient rights. This session will address some of the common misunderstandings about Advance Directives and clinical futility, focusing on policy issues and common ethics consultation situations. Strategies for consultations will be discussed, including how the “facilitation” and “expert” formats work and when to use them. Helpful tips for appropriate consult documentation in the electronic health record will also be explored.

Session 3: Informed consent challenges; incapacitated patients; surrogates, proxies and guardians, Thursday, May 20, 2021 | 4:00-5:15 p.m. | Slides
A fundamental component of modern health care law and practice is the idea that patients have the right to consent to or refuse medical treatment and care. Yet valid informed consent is a major area of ethical, legal, and practical challenge in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices, especially with patients who have waxing and waning capacity or who are incapacitated. This session will review the necessary components of valid consent, focusing on consent by surrogates, proxies, and guardians, as well as the role of other family members and friends in the consent process. Exceptions to informed consent will also be identified. This session will also include a discussion of the appropriate use of “social worker proxies” and the important role of ethics services in social worker proxy decisions, as well as recent confusion over who must approve end-of-life decisions by such proxies.