At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, we respect your values and those of your family in all aspects of care.
As you go through cancer treatment, or guide your child or another family member through it, you may have such questions as:
- How aggressive should treatment be?
- Should I volunteer for a clinical trial?
- Who should make medical decisions for me if I’m not able to do so?
Advances in technology, multiple treatment options, and differences in beliefs and values can create challenges for all of us. There are so many choices that sometimes we need to pause and ask: What is the right thing to do?
One way to answer this question is to request an ethics consultation.
The Ethics Consultation Service can help you and others involved in your care talk about, understand, and come to agreement about ethical issues. Our goal is to help everyone involved arrive at a resolution that is right for all.
What does an ethics consultation do?
- Encourages communication and shared decision-making among patients, families, and the health care team
- Clarifies the ethical questions
- Helps identify options and choices related to patient care
- Offers recommendations to you and your health care team
What happens when I request an ethics consultation?
There are usually three phases of an ethics consultation:
- A member of the Ethics Consultation Service will speak with you to clarify your concerns. We will also speak with members of your health care team.
- We may review your medical record. We will maintain your confidentiality at all times.
- Members of the Ethics Consultation Service will meet with you, your family, and your health care team.
- During the meetings, we'll seek to understand everyone’s values and concerns.
- We'll also help identify options for the decisions that your face.
- We will offer recommendations that we hope will be helpful to you and your medical team.
- In most cases, we will put a written summary of our recommendations in your medical chart. We will give you a copy of these recommendations.
Must I do what the ethics consultation recommends?
No. The recommendations are only advisory. However, we hope they will help you reach a decision that feels right for everyone.
To request an ethics consultation at Dana-Farber
Call the hospital operator at 617-632-3352 and ask for the ethics consultant on call. The ethics consultant is available by page Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. If you wish to leave a message, call Dana-Farber's ethics hotline and 24-hour confidential
voice mail at 617-632-5713.
For patients hospitalized at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Call the hospital operator at 617-732-5656 and ask for the ethics consultant on call.
For patients hospitalized at Children’s Hospital
Call the hospital operator at 617-355-6363 and ask for the ethics consultant on call.
The Ethics Advisory Committee
The Ethics Consultation Service is part of Dana-Farber's Ethics Advisory Committee.
- Provides ethics consultation to Dana-Farber clinicians, patients, or family members.
- Develops hospital policies related to patient care and ethics.
- Facilitates professional education about medical ethics.
Who is on the Ethics Advisory Committee?
The committee has about 25 interdisciplinary members, including:
- Patient and Family Representatives
- Social Workers
- Mental Health Professionals
All members of the Committee receive education and training about medical ethics.
Ethics Advisory Committee Chairs
Gregory Abel, MD, MPH
Gregory Abel serves as Co-Chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee at Dana-Farber. He is a hematologic oncologist and health services researcher who takes care of patients with blood cancers in the Dana-Farber outpatient and inpatient hospitals.
Michael Casey, APRN-BC, FNP
Michael Casey serves as Co-Chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee at Dana-Farber. He is a nurse practitioner who takes care of patients with gastrointestinal malignancies in the Dana-Farber outpatient hospital.
To request an ethics consult
To request an ethics consult regarding a Dana-Farber outpatient or Dana-Farber inpatient (in the Dana-Farber Inpatient Hospital pods 6B, 6C and 6D at BWH) in urgent circumstances, please dial the Dana-Farber hospital
operator and ask for the ethics consultant on call. You may also page us through the Dana-Farber online paging system (search "ethics" or pager number "41817").
If your request is less urgent, please leave a confidential voice mail on the Dana-Farber Ethics Line 617-632-5713. We will return your call by the next business day.
If you wish to request a consult regarding an inpatient at Brigham and Women's Hospital, please call the Brigham and Women's hospital operator at 617-732-5656 and ask for the ethics consultant on call.
If you wish to request a consult regarding an inpatient at Boston Children's Hospital, please call the Boston Children's operator at 617-355-6363 and ask for the ethics consultant on call.