Clinical ethics programs in each hospital are an essential part of the HCA Ethics and Compliance Program. There are many reasons for the establishment of clinical ethics programs at the facility level. Such reasons include, but are not limited to, an obligation to ensure the rights of our patients are adequately protected; the recognition of the efforts of external quality agencies including The Joint Commission; adherence to federal (HIPAA) and state privacy regulations; and to establish a mark of professionalism.
The manner in which clinical ethics issues are addressed in HCA facilities is of great importance to our organization. To support our clinicians in delivering ethical care for their patients, the Ethics and Compliance Department provides several resources in clinical ethics including Clinical Ethics Conferences, and a Clinical Ethics Manual.
The Ethics and Compliance Department participates in discussions regarding Pastoral Care Services. The pastoral care services at each HCA facility vary. In some facilities, there are large, mature clinical chaplaincy programs. In other facilities, there may be someone who simply coordinates visits by local clergy when their congregants are hospitalized. HCA maintains a large network of professionally certified and accredited chaplains that shares ideas and discusses possible endeavors.
In November of 2002, the Ethics, Compliance and Corporate Responsibility Department with the assistance of several members of our pastoral care network, developed a primer and an accompanying videotape to assist our facilities in assessing their pastoral care needs and identifying a program model to meet those needs. You may access the primer by clicking on the following link: Body, Mind and Spirit: Caring for the Whole Person - The Role of Professional Chaplaincy in HCA Facilities. While spiritual support is obviously a matter of patient choice, it is our belief that excellent hospitals provide resources for this spiritual support in a conscientious and professional way for those patients who desire it.