Ethics Consult Service

Welcome to the Ethics Consult Service at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Below are frequently asked questions and an overview of what our program offers.

What is an ethics consult?

Making decisions amid all the complexities of modern medicine is not easy. Ethical questions can arise, for instance, when a patient has lost the capacity to make decisions, when it is not clear whether the burdens of a treatment are worth the expected benefits, or when values appear to conflict. The ethics consult is an advisory service that is designed to assist patients, families, and all health care professionals in identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical dilemmas.

What happens in an ethics consult?

A clinical ethicist will review each request to see if a full consult is warranted. Sometimes, the concern may only be a communication problem. A full consult will generally involve a meeting of several ethicists, the health care team, the patient, and/or the patient's family as appropriate. The consultants do not judge the quality of patient care or make decisions. They help to facilitate a discussion and clarify the ethical issues in making an important decision.

How does one request a consult?

The ethics consult can be initiated by calling the page operator at MedStar Georgetown: 202-444-PAGE (7243)and request the "ethics consult service" which is on-call 24 hours a day, or by calling the consult pager: 202-405-3959.

Who can request a consult?

Doctors, patients, nurses, chaplains, social workers, or anyone involved in the case.

The Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics

The Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, on behalf of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Ethics Committee, conducts this clinical service to assist staff, patients and families. The center faculty have training and experience in both patient care and in ethics. They work closely with the whole hospital staff, including the departments of Pastoral Care and Social Work, and conducts ethics consults from a team approach.

Request for an Ethics Consult may be made to the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics at any time by calling the numbers listed on this website. No fees are charged for this service and all consultants are kept strictly confidential.

Clinical Ethics Consultants

  • G. Kevin Donovan, MD, MA
  • K. N. Siva Subramanian, MD
  • Lawrence Prograis, Jr., MD
  • Sarah B. Vittone, RN, MA
  • James F. Duffy, SJ, MD
  • Kevin T. FitzGerald, SJ, PhD