Ethics Committee

Call 828-286-5505 on weekdays
828-286-5315 on nights & weekends
828-286-5000 switchboard 


The mission of the Medical Ethics Committee of Rutherford Regional is to assist our patients, their families and our staff in addressing and resolving issues of medical ethical concern through case consultation, education and policy review.

Ethics Committee

The Medical Ethics Committee is an advisory group.  It reviews, on request, ethical or moral questions that may come up during a patient's care.  Committee members include doctors, nurses, patient representative, chaplain, Hospice employees and chaplains from the community.

Function of the Ethics Committee

Who may request help from the Committee:

  • Patients
  • Patients' Family/Representative
  • Physicians
  • Hospital employees directly involved with a patient's care
  • Administrative staff

Goal of case consultation

  • To make recommendations to all involved persons
  • To advise and help them with the decision making process
  • Types of Case Consultations

Informal Case Consultations:

Ethics Committee chairperson or another committee member and the person requesting assistance meet to consult within 24 hours.

Formal Case Consultations:

This is done by a case review team called together by the Committee Chairperson within 24 hours after obtaining consent from the patient or patient's surrogate and the attending physician.


The Committee develops and plans educational forums for the Rutherford Regional community.  These forums take the form of seminar presentations, inservice education and/or other means of addressing the medical ethics educational concerns of the community.

Committee Principles

Presumption of Good Will:

The committee is a mutually supportive community gathered in good will where truth telling and plain speaking are essential.


The principles of confidentiality is basic to the Committee's functioning and makes the disclosure and discussion possible.

Patient-Centered Decision Making:

The primary focus is on the patient's best interest.

Collegial Relationships:

Each member's reflections are honored and respected without regard to his or her place in the institution or community.

Examples of Ethical Issues to Consult the Committee on...

  • "We can't seem to agree on whether or not to continue treatment. This is such a difficult and important decision. How can we decide?"
  • "My doctor and I seem to think different treatment steps are in my best interest at this time. Should I let my wishes be known?"
  • "I'm wondering if my care is being compromised because of my race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or illness. How can I address my concern without jeopardizing my care?"
  • "I'm not sure my family and physicians are giving me all the information about my diagnosis. Do I have the right o know? How can I be sure I'm hearing the complete story?"
  • "I know I am at the end of my life. What are my alternatives?"

How You Can Request an Ethics Committee Consult?

  • During regular business hours call the Patient Representative at 828-286-5505.
  • At night, weekends and holidays call the Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON) at 828-286-5315.
  • The Patient Representative or the ADON will contact the Medical Ethics Chairperson or another committee member.

What Happens Next?

  • The Chairperson or another committee member called will discuss the issue with you.
  • The Chairperson or other committee members will discuss the Ethics Committee's recommendations with the person requesting the consult, or the patient and his/her family or representative and attending physicians.

**Note** The Ethics Committee is an advisory body. The Committee does not make patient decisions. Patient treatment decisions can only be made by the patient, the patient's family, and treating physicians.