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Atrium Health provides medical ethics services to providers and patients to help with the resolution of ethical dilemmas and questions. Additionally, the team helps:

  • Navigate, recognize and mediate in potential medical ethics conflicts
  • Educate patients and providers about current and future ethical concerns
  • Operate as an arms-length, independent body, to level the playing field between providers and patients
  • Clarify hospital policies and legislation

Patients and providers often face questions that involve some value judgments in medical situations. What is important, and what is the wrong or the right thing to do? For example, if the patient is unable to make decisions, who should be making decisions for the patient? What if the patient is unconscious but his or her wishes are unclear?

Ethics services can help with finding answers in these tough situations. We can help clarify values and assist in conflicts or uncertainties about these values.

Carolinas Medical Center Ethics Committee

The Carolinas Medical Center Ethics Committee is made up of multidisciplinary staff members, including physicians, nurses, social workers, respiratory therapists, chaplains, ethicists and community representatives. The group meets monthly. Meetings focus on quality assessment of individual consultations, hospital policies, and general oversight of ethics issues in the hospital setting. There are also subcommittees that focus on key areas:

Ethics Consultation

  • Offers day-to-day assistance for ethical issues from a select group of consultants from the Ethics Committee – provides the actual ethics consultations
  • Assists patients, families and providers to identify and resolve ethical dilemmas.


  • Aids in decision-making on hospital policy to ensure fair and equitable care
  • Assists in outlining, analyzing, and evaluating elements of the care process to develop and assess future and existing policies


  • Organizes lectures, workshops and outreach events for the hospital and wider community
  • Hosts an annual Ethics Grand Rounds
  • Provides education to the Ethics Committee at large

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Ethics

What happens when I call for a consultation?

The chaplain on call will gather preliminary information and will refer the call to an ethics consultant. The consultant will gather any additional information, analyze the situation and discuss the consultation with relevant participants. All consultations are confidential, just like other medical services.

Why should I get a consultation?

Sometimes healthcare decisions are ethically problematic. A consultation can give you an outsider’s perspective, help ensure respect for patient rights, and support and enhance the moral compass of providers and patients.

What are the typical types of questions asked?

  • Decisions: If the patient is unable to make decisions, who should be making decisions for the patient? 
  • Disagreement: What if family members disagree about what should happen with the patient?
  • Goals of care: What if the doctor and the patient or family disagree about what should happen?
  • Uncertainty: How should a provider counsel a patient who is looking for unproven treatment?
  • Autonomy: How should I think about the changing preferences of a patient?
  • Safety: How should I think about the patient who wants to go home, but I do not think it is safe for them?