Clinical Ethics Consultations in the Opinion of Polish Physicians

Clinical Ethics Consultations in the Opinion of Polish Physicians

Original research

Open Access. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry. Published online 16 August 2021.

Marek Czarkowski, Joanna Różyńska, Bartosz Maćkiewicz & Jakub Zawiła-Niedźwiecki

Abstract: Clinical Ethics Consultations (CEC) are an important tool for physicians in solving difficult cases. They are extremely common in North America and to a lesser extent also present in Europe. However, there is little data on this practice in Poland. We present results of a survey of 521 physicians practising in Poland concerning their opinion on CECs and related practices. We analysed the data looking at such issues as CECs’ perceived availability, use of CECs, and perceived usefulness of such support. Physicians in our study generally encounter hard ethics cases, even—surprisingly—those who do not work in hospitals. Most physicians have no CEC access, and those that do still do not employ CECs. However, physicians perceive this form of support as useful—even more so among actual users of CECs. We compared these findings with similar studies from other European countries and the North America. We point out peculiarities of our results as compared to those in other countries, with some possible explanations. We hope the results may encourage regulatory debate on the need to formally introduce CECs into the Polish healthcare system.

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