The Clinical Bioethicist’s Role: Should We Aim to Relieve Suffering?
Abstract

Bioethics consultants arrive at their profession from a variety of prior experiences (e.g., as physicians, nurses, or social workers), yet all clarify ethical issues in the care of patients. The integrated bioethicist’s role often extends beyond case consultations. This case presents a young person suffering a prolonged and gruesome end–of–life journey, which raised questions regarding the bioethicist’s role in alleviating suffering as part of the health care team. The case is used to illuminate forms of suffering experienced by patients, families, and health care providers. The question arises as to whether it is in the ethicist’s jurisdiction to alleviate suffering, and if the answer is “yes,” then whose suffering should be addressed? The discussion addresses one approach taken by an integrated bioethicist toward promoting delivery of ethical and compassionate care to the patient.


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