Traditional ethics committees in health care organisations are reactive, addressing only the most visible ethical concerns. They fail to highlight deeper organisational factors that influence how a health care organisation functions, instead focusing on issues related primarily to clinical ethics. Additionally, ethics committees are not well connected with other functions of the organisation which results in employees unable to handle ethical issues effectively.
Addressing these issues often falls beyond the scope of conventional ethics committees because they may not pertain to clinical service, research or academics, but to the way the organisation runs. “Thus common norms and standards of ethical conduct need to be set, communicated and enforced in every function of the institute”, explained Dr Robyna Khan, Assistant Professor, AKU. She was speaking in her capacity as Chair, Sixth Hospital Ethics Committee Symposium held at Aga Khan University.
“In her keynote address, Dr Melissa M. Bottrell of the National Center for Ethics in Health Care in the United States identified the major limitations of traditional ethics committee models and offered an Integrated Ethics model as a paradigm shift that remedies most of these defects. “By envisioning new ways of looking at ethical concern in health care,” she said, “Integrated Ethics empowers organisations to ‘do the right thing’ because it is the right thing to do.”
Professor Murad Khan, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, AKU described various components of organisational ethics. “As part of an organisational approach to ethics, committees should address matters such as conflict of interest issues, resource allocation, appointments and promotions as well as support other ethical activities in their institution.”
The Symposium provided an opportunity to review challenges, examine ethical issues in organisations, and identify the role of leaders, faculty, administration and staff in formulating and implementing solutions. Summarising the discussions Professor Camer Vellani, reviewed the impact of organisational culture, leadership, and ethics committees as drivers of success in an integrated ethics approach.
Other notable speakers at the Symposium included Dr Abdul Bari Khan, CEO, Indus Hospital, Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press, Professor Arif Zaman, former Dean, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and Dr Nida Bashir, Consultant Surgeon, Patel Hospital.