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Mayo Clin Proc. 2007 Jun;82(6):686-91.

Report of 255 clinical ethics consultations and review of the literature.

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Division of General Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



To review clinical ethics consultations at a tertiary care academic medical center.


We retrospectively reviewed all ethics consultations (and associated patient medical records) conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn, between April 6, 1995, and December 31, 2005.


Of the 255 consultations, 101 (40%) reviewed intensive care unit care, 103 (40%) involved patients who died during hospitalization, and 174 (68%) were requested by physicians. The most common primary diagnoses of the patients involved were malignancy (18%, n=47), neurologic disease (18%, n=47), and cardiovascular disease (17%, n=43). Most cases involved multiple issues: patient competency and decision-making capacity (82%, n=208), staff member disagreement with care plans (76%, n=195), end-of-life and quality-of-life issues (60%, n=154), and goals of care and futility (54%, n=138). Withholding or withdrawing measures was the focus of 132 (52%) of the consultations. We also identified previously published reports of ethics consultations and compared the findings of those reports with ours.


Despite advances in medicine, the nature of ethical dilemmas remains relatively unchanged. Issues of communication, family conflict, and futility continue to give rise to ethical quandaries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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