May 10, 1985

Hospital Medical Ethics Committees: A Review of Their Development

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Queens Hospital Center Affiliation of the Long Island Jewish-Hillside Medical Center, Jamaica, NY; and the Health Sciences Center, State University of New York at Stony Brook.

JAMA. 1985;253(18):2693-2697. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350420105027

RAPID advances in biomedical technology have necessitated that physicians, nurses, and other health personnel be introspective in what they ultimately will do with patients who are terminally ill or have physical handicaps that will lead to a life that is far from normal. The new technology has dictated the need to reexamine and redefine ethical and moral values. Many physicians are now more concerned about ethical and moral decisions than they have been in the past.

Despite this growing concern with moral values, the medical community is being labeled as cold, scientific, unethical, and uncaring by people in the political, scientific, and business communities. This article, which describes the historical development of hospital ethics committees, is intended to show that medical practitioners are becoming more aware that they must approach medical care in an ethical manner similar to the way they approach other social issues.

The Earliest Hospital Ethics Committees