Achieving Awareness and Dialogue in Health Care Ethics The Center for Ethics and Leadership in the Health Profession accomplishes its mission through teaching, scholarship and community outreach. Please find below thought leadership and events pertaining to achieving awareness and dialogue regarding health care ethics in our communities. NewsEvents Following are publications on the topic of Health Care Ethics. Ethicists Look to M.D.s on "Death" Denver Post September 02, 2008 Link to Article The end of life is getting complicated for terminal patients, their families and doctors. Pressure to expand the pool of organ donors and improve the success of transplants has led physicians to redefine death and shorten times before organ harvest, researchers say. Ethicists and theologians are struggling to keep up with medical advances. "The church understands it is not a medical organization, and it looks to those in the health care field to guide those decisions," said Edward Furton of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. "We hold that death is the separation of the soul of the body. We don't claim to know exactly when that occurs," he said. The dead-donor rule says a donor must be dead before organs are removed for transplant. Federal and Colorado death-defining statutes require the irreversible cessation of the heart or of brain function. For 40 years, the irreversible cessation of brain function — a standard developed at Harvard Medical School — has been an accepted medical definition of death. Since the mid-1990s, pronouncement of death upon cardiac arrest, followed by removal of organs, also has become accepted medical practice. And the number of organ transplants has doubled in the past 20 years, said Thomas Hooyman, an ethicist at Regis University, a Jesuit college. Yet organ donation after cardiac death, while requiring simpler testing, has caused ongoing confusion and controversy, Hooyman said, in part because it often involves a decision to remove life-sustaining equipment, such as a ventilator. Christian ethicist Dieumeme Noelliste of the Denver Seminary said death must precede steps for organ removal. "If there is any doubt the first action has taken place, then the second should not follow. We must ensure death is irreversible," he said. "Both lives are sacred." Now, two high-profile doctors are calling for an end to the dead-donor rule. Robert Truog, a Harvard University professor of medical ethics, and Franklin Miller, a bioethicist with the National Institutes of Health, say the dead-donor rule has required "unsupportable revisions of the definition of death" and arguments over minutes. The two doctors say the ethical requirement for organ donation in cases of devastating neurological injury is valid informed consent by families and other patient surrogates. "It (informed consent) is ethically sound, optimally respects the desires of those who wish to donate organs and has the potential to maximize the number and quality of organs available to those in need," Truog and Miller wrote in the Aug. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Truog and Miller wrote their opinion after Children's Hospital followed its protocol of waiting less than two minutes after the hearts of two severely brain-damaged newborns stopped beating in April to remove those hearts and restart them in two other infants. The parents had authorized withdrawal of life support. The Institute of Medicine, a think tank affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences, has advocated a five-minute wait after irreversible cessation of heart function. Respected theologians had a comfort level with five minutes, Furton said. "The Catholic standard of erring on the side of life seems jeopardized," he said. "You can't take life, whatever good comes of it." Calendar of Events No upcoming events are currently scheduled. Please check back again soon. Recent Events Community Forum Afforadable Care Act: Defining Social Justice in the Face of Limited Resources September 15, 2012 Regis University Campus The Affordable Care Act extends healthcare to many millions of Americans who are currently uninsured, while still leaving many millions without insurance. Some critics argue reforms don’t go far enough and too many people will remain without affordable access. Other critics argue that we simply don’t have the fiscal resources to pay for the expansion of coverage that is projected let alone more. In either case, healthcare remains a scarce resource for which difficult decisions must be made with respect to how and what to fund. In addition, difficult questions regarding what constitutes a just, fair and equitable system for all stakeholders remain to be answered. A distinguished panel of speakers was brought together to engage the conference audience in addressing these issues. Panel Speakers: Jeffrey J. Cain, MD, FAAFP, President-Elect, American Academy of Family Physicians Patty Fontneau, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Patty Gabow, Retired Chief Executive Officer, Denver Health Medical Center Rev. Thomas Nairn, O.F.M., Ph.D., Senior Director of Ethics, Catholic Healthcare Association Tracey Stewart, Family Economics Security Program Manager, Colorado Center for Law and Policy Rep. Ken Summers, Colorado State Representative, Chairman of the Health and Environment Committee Colorado Healtcare Ethics Forum (CHEF) 2012 Annual Conference April 26-27, 2012 Stonebrook Manor Event Center, Denver, CO The Colorado Healthcare Ethics Forum (CHEF) [link to CHEF website] held its annual conference April 26th and 27th at Stonebrook Manor Event Center in Denver, CO. The theme, Borders and Barriers: Mapping a Moral Path, attracted a wide array of speakers and topics. Outstanding keynote presentations included Lisa Campo-Englestein's presentation BRCA Mutation Previvors: Straddling the Border Between Healthy and Diseased, Fabrice Jotterand's Personal Identity and the Therapeutic Use of Neurotechnologies, and the opening keynote by Deb Bennett-Woods entitled Borders and Barriers: The Search for Wisdom in Complex Times. Other Hot Topic presentations addressed unbefriended and incapacitated patients, dilemmas surrounding continuing dialysis, turning off a pacemaker, preventive ethics, and moral distress. The Issues in Practice Track included presentations on communication, advance care planning, decisional capacity in children, and ethics committees in post-acute care settings. The Center was well represented at this year's conference. Deb Roybal and Deb Bennett-Woods served as conference co-chairs. Daniel Roysden's Hot Topics presentation Drug Shortages and Allocation of Resources was well received as was Jennifer McCurdy and Heather Fitzgerald's Issues in Practice presentation Ethics Nurse Liaison Committee at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The Center will continue to support CHEF for its 2013 conference to be held on May 9 and 10, 2013 at Stonebrook Manor Event Center. You can visit the CHEF website at: http://coloradoethicsforum.org/.