William Nelson, PhD, and Barbara Elliott, PhD, recently developed the Critical Access Hospital Ethics Committee Resource Guide with funding from the National Rural Health Association through a cooperative agreement from the Office of Rural Health Policy.
“Many critical access hospitals have indicated they would like to have an ethics committee, but because they’re small, they may not have the resources,” says Nelson, director of Dartmouth Medical School’s Rural Ethics Initiative and a graduate of NRHA Rural Health Fellows program. “NRHA recognized the importance of effective ethics resources because rural hospitals certainly encounter clinical and organizational ethical issues, but no one really focused on how they uniquely play out in rural settings.”
The free guide was created to assist rural hospital leaders in developing an effective and useful resource for patients, clinicians and administrators in rural health facilities. It’s based on research and real-life situations that highlight the challenging and frequent ethics conflicts common in rural hospitals.
“Everyone knows each other in rural communities,” Nelson says. “So the issues of privacy and confidentiality are very different than if you’re in Kansas City where you’ll probably never see that patient outside of the hospital. In rural settings, it really alters that relationship because you may be treating your next door neighbor. It raises a lot of issues that are rarely, if ever, discussed in ethics literature.”
Click here for more on Nelson’s focus on rural health ethics.
And access the free guide here.