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Albany Med Today

Assistance with Ethical Issues a Call Away

Because of Albany Medical College’s role as a leader in ethics education, patients, families and staff have an exceptional support system in place to help during difficult times. 

The Ethics Consultation Service (ECS) at Albany Med is part of the College’s respected Alden March Bioethics Institute (AMBI). ECS ethicists are on call 24 hours a day, year-round. Consults can occur right at the bedside, and anyone can ask for help from the service.

“The service is made up of specially trained and qualified medical ethical consultants who provide support when an ethical dilemma cannot be overcome,” said Dan Thompson, MD, a clinical ethics consultant and professor of surgery and anesthesiology in the Department of Surgery and Critical Care Medicine. “This can include answering questions, supporting decision-making, helping mediate conflicts and facilitating understanding.”

Common dilemmas can include:

  • Who is the most appropriate person to make decisions for the patient?
  • How should risks and benefits of a treatment or medication be weighed?
  • How should quality of life be evaluated?
  • How to deal with (family) disagreement about different treatment options.

ECS strives to be collaborative, Dr. Thompson said. Consultants do not function as “referees” or “police,” but rather act in an advisory capacity.

“We offer recommendations that not only respect the unique needs, values and interests of the patient, but also reflect the practical realities and achievable options in each circumstance,” said ethics consultant Jane Jankowski, LMSW, an AMBI assistant professor.

ECS consultation is free. Call 518-262-3125 and ask for the ethicist on call. For more information, go to www.amc.edu/EthicsConsult