What Is Bioethics?

Bioethics is the discipline that addresses ethical issues that arise in the healthcare setting, including those related to life and death, cure and comfort, truth telling and trust reflected in patient care and decision making. These are moral issues central to decision making and the provision of patient care. The concerns of bioethics are the well-being and dignity of the patient; the rights, responsibilities and choices of the patient, family and care team; and matters of justice and access to care. In practice, bioethics includes behaviors that promote dignity, fairness, honesty, compassion and trust in all interactions between and among the healthcare team, patients and families.

Bioethics is about behaviors and ways of thinking that care professionals exhibit routinely, whether or not they call them “bioethics.” For example, bioethics can be seen in actions that protect the confidentiality of patients’ medical information, ensure that patients are given the opportunity to complete advance directives, and create a care environment that promotes patient dignity and comfort. Recognizing that these matters are especially important to those who give and receive care, Hackensack University Medical Center (HackensackUMC) provides staff, patients and families confidential access to bioethics counsel and guidance in making difficult decisions.

The Bioethics Service also provides teaching for medical students, residents and nurses; forums for discussion of ethical issues in the news, as well as in the medical center; collaboration with other disciplines; participation on medical center committees and projects; and policy development and review.

Contact Us

Clinical ethics consultations can be requested by contacting the Director of Bioethics at 551-996-4179, Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 4:30pm. During evening and weekend hours, consultation requests will be directed to the Assistant Head Nurse on call through the operator.


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