Ethics Consultation Service

Dana-Farber ethics hotline and 24-hour confidential voice mail

Members of the Ethics Advisory Committee meet regularly to discuss clinical and institutional ethics.

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 Consultation Service is part of Dana-Farber's Ethics Advisory Committee.

    The 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:

    • Doctors
    • Nurses
    • Patient and Family Representatives
    • Chaplains
    • Social Workers
    • Mental Health Professionals
    • Researchers
    • Ethicists

    All members of the Committee receive education and training about medical ethics.

    The co-chairs of the Ethics Advisory Committee are:

    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.

    The Dana-Farber Cancer Ethics Research Initiative (CERI) is hosted by the Ethics Advisory Committee and aims to address the ethical implications of cancer care and research. The CERI program focuses on such topics as cancer health equity, ethical implications of artificial intelligence in oncology, ethics of telehealth, and the emerging field of environmental oncology. Below is a sample of recently-published analyses:

    1. McCleary N, Healey M, Weng S, Song A, Lederman, R, Ramelson H, Wagner A, Abel G. Perceptions of oncologists about sharing clinic notes with patients. Oncologist 2018; 24(1): e46-e48.
    2. Frosch Z, Cronin A, Gagne J, Teschke M, Gray S and Abel G. Cancer drug shortages: Awareness and perspectives from a representative sample of the U.S. population. Cancer 2018; 124(10): 2205-2211.
    3. Hantel A, Abel G, Siegler M. A practical allocation system for the distribution of specialized care during cellular therapy access scarcity. Journal of Medical Ethics 2019; 45(8),532–537.
    4. Hantel A, Abel G. An action plan for environmentally sustainable cancer care. JAMA Oncology 2020; 6(4): 469-70.
    5. Hantel A, Peppercorn J, Abel G. Model solutions for ethical allocation during cancer medication shortages. Lancet Haematology 2021; 8 (4): E246-E248.
    6. Hantel A, Marron J, Casey M, Kurtz S, Magnavita E, Abel G. State government crisis standards of care: Implications for patients with cancer. JAMA Oncology 2021;7(2):199-205.
    7. Hantel A, Kohlschmidt J, Eisfeld A, Stock W, Jacobson S, Mandrekar S, Larson R, Stone R, Lathan S, DeAngelo D, Byrd J, Abel G. Inequities in Alliance acute leukemia clinical trial and biobank participation: Defining targets for intervention. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2022 Nov 10;40(32):3709-3718.
    8. Marron J, Hantel A, Abel G, Peppercorn J. Ethics consultation in oncology: the search for quality in quantity. Journal of Oncology Practice 2022; 18 (9): 610-613.
    9. Hantel A, McManus ML, Wadleigh M, Cotugno M, Abel G. The impact of allocation on survival during intermittent chemotherapy shortages: a modeling analysis. JNCCN 2022; Apr;20(4):335-34.
    10. Hantel A, Clancy D, Khel K, Marron J, Van Allen E, Abel G. A process framework for ethically deploying artificial intelligence in oncology. Journal of Clinical Oncology 2022; 40 (34): 3907-3911.
    11. Childers C, Mayer E, Marron J, Abel G. Clinical ethics consultation documentation in the era of open notes. BMC Medical Ethics 2023 (in press).