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HEC Forum. 2014 Mar;26(1):59-68. doi: 10.1007/s10730-013-9218-0.

The changing composition of a hospital ethics committee: a tertiary care center's experience.

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Institute for Patient Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Founders House, 3rd Floor, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA, 02114, USA,


A growing body of research has demonstrated significant heterogeneity of hospital ethics committee (HEC) size, membership and training requirements, length of appointment, institutional support, clinical and policy roles, and predictors of self identified success. Because these studies have focused on HECs at a single point in time, however, little is known about how the composition of HECs changes over time and what impact these changes have on committee utilization. The current study presents 20 years of data on the evolution of the Massachusetts General Hospital HEC. Between 1993 and 2012, the average number of committee members per year was 38±3 and the average length of membership was 4.8±0.4 years. During that time, the committee performed 934 consults, averaging 47±3 per year. Attendance rates fell from 61.5 to 23.8% over the study period and were inversely correlated with the total number of members. Between 1993 and 2012, the committee saw substantial growth in the diversity of the professional backgrounds of its members. Multivariate analysis, however, suggests that substantial changes in committee composition did not impact its utilization and that other factors are more likely to explain fluctuations in consultation volume.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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