Modern health care can be extremely complicated and sometimes patients, family members and members of the health care team run into situations where they're unsure about the right thing to do. That's when they can contact the KHSC Ethics Service to provide support. 

In a health care setting, Ethicists can provide guidance by helping to clarify underlying values, principles and interests, as well as helping to identify and balance competing values, rights and duties.  They support principled decision-making and reasonable compromises.  In that way, they help promote and protect the rights of patients and the care team.

Who can contact the KHSC Ethics Service?

Anyone who has an ethical question or concern can contact us, including patients, family members, hospital volunteers and members of the care team. You don't need permission from the care team.

What we do

  • provide ethics consults where we investigate and analyze the ethical issue, participate in family meetings and offer recommendations to the care team
  • provide ethics education (presentations, small group/individual discussion) on ethical issues
  • bring an Ethics lens to KHSC policies. 

What we don’t do

  • respond to patient complaints--these are best addressed by Patient Relations
  • provide legal advice--we understand legislation related to ethical issues but are not legal experts
  • have “the final say”--we can offer recommendations but it's ultimately the patient (or their substitute-decision maker if the patient cannot make their own decisions) who has the final say
  • judge or condemn--we're not moral enforcers but instead listen to all sides of the situation and help people make difficult decisions.

What are some situations when the Ethics Service can help?

  • when a loved one cannot make his/her own decisions about treatment options and you 're unsure about what they would have wanted
  • when family members disagree about the best treatment options for a loved one who can no longer make this decision
  • when you don't think the care team really understands or appreciates your values, wishes and goals of care
  • when you and/or your family are uncertain about the pros and cons of treatment options and how they might affect your quality of life
  • when you think your family or care team is pressuring you to go to long-term care when you want to go home and are willing to accept the risks of returning to home
  • whether you can refuse treatments or what your rights are when you are in the hospital. 

How can I contact the KHSC Ethics Service?

Kingston General Hospital site:  Please call 613-549-6666, ext 8146.

Hotel Dieu Hospital site:  Please call 613-544-3400, ext 2231.