‘If you build it, they will come…to the wrong door: evaluating patient and caregiver-initiated ethics consultations via a patient portal

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Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) sought to empower patients and caregivers to be more proactive in requesting ethics consultations.


Functionality was developed on MSK’s electronic patient portal that allowed patients and/or caregivers to request ethics consultations. The Ethics Consultation Service (ECS) responded to all requests, which were documented and analysed.


Of the 74 requests made through the portal, only one fell under the purview of the ECS. The others were primarily requests for assistance with coordinating clinical care, hospital resources or frustrations with the hospital or clinical team.


To better empower patients and caregivers to engage Ethics, healthcare organisations and ECSs must first provide them with accessible, understandable and iterative educational resources.


After 19.5 months, the ‘Request Ethics Consultation’ functionality on the patient portal was suspended. Developing resources on the role of Ethics for our patients and caregivers remains a priority.

Blackler, L., Scharf, A. E., Matsoukas, K., Colletti, M., Voigt, L. P.

Blackler, L., Scharf, A. E., Matsoukas, K., Colletti, M., Voigt, L. P.

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