Ethics at the Credit Valley Hospital

Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the ethical delivery of care, from bedside to boardroom.

Since its establishment, The Credit Valley Hospital has had an active Ethics Committee (now known as the Ethics Forum) which provides leadership in areas of ethics education, policy development and review, and consultation. The Forum has a broad membership of hospital staff and physicians, as well as representatives from senior management, the Board of Governors and the community.

The Credit Valley Hospital also has a Research Review Committee which evaluates any research that is being conducted within the organization to ensure that the rights and safety of participants are protected.

Since February 2009, in partnership with the Regional Ethics Service at Trillium Health Centre, The Credit Valley Hospital has had an Ethicist available as a resource to staff, physicians, volunteers, students, patients, and family members.

What is ethics?

  • Ethics is about right and wrong and the reasons that we give for our choices and actions.
  • In ethics, we address the question, “What ought we to do and why?”
  • Ethics promotes reflective practice and the making of “right” or “good” choices and decisions in the delivery of health care.
  • Ethical issues are often framed as “should” questions—e.g., Should we withdraw treatment? Should we fund more beds for the maternal child program? Should we disclose a medical error?

What are some examples of ethical situations in the hospital?

  • A patient has kidneys that are failing and needs dialysis (a medical treatment to remove waste products from blood) to survive. The patient is refusing dialysis. His wife is concerned that her husband does not realize the consequences of his decision.
  • A patient is in hospital for routine surgery. There is a history of strokes in her family. She has strong opinions about the kind of care she would want to receive if she suffered a serious stroke.
  • A patient recently experienced a cardiac arrest (heart stopped beating). Although his heart was restarted, he suffered brain damage that is likely permanent. He is in the intensive care unit attached to a breathing machine. The patient has previously stated that he would not want to live connected to machines.
  • A family member observes a staff member treating another patient in what appears to be a disrespectful manner.
  • A patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Her family does not want her informed of the diagnosis.

What is the general process for making an ethical decision?

  • Gather information about the facts of the situation and identify the ethical issue(s).
  • Ensure participation of relevant individuals in decision-making process.
  • Clarify the ethical principles that are at stake (e.g., patient’s values and beliefs, benefits, harms, fairness).
  • Consider other factors such as the law and organizational policies.
  • Identify various courses of action; weigh the likely benefits and burdens of each alternative.
  • Choose a course of action – Ask the question “Am I comfortable with this decision?”
  • Evaluate the outcome and amend the decision as appropriate.

How can an Ethicist help me or my family?

While in hospital you may be faced with making difficult treatment decisions for yourself or a family member. The Ethicist’s role is to facilitate good decision-making processes and support individuals through those processes.

The ethicist may be able to help you...

  • Identify the information you need to make a treatment decision
  • Understand the ethical and legal implications of your treatment decision
  • Explore the benefits and burdens of different treatment options
  • Link you with other persons and resources within and outside the organization

When might I consider contacting an Ethicist?

First, you should discuss any treatment decisions with your health care team. After having discussed your treatment decisions with your health care team, you may wish to contact the Ethicist for any of the following reasons:

  • If you are uncertain about what decision should be made
  • If there are differences of opinion about what decision should be made
  • If you would like to explore further the ethical and legal aspects of a decision


PDF Patient/ Family Brochure – English [ 426 kb pdf ]
PDF Patient/ Family Brochure – Simple Chinese [ 80 kb pdf ]

PDF Patient /Family Brochure – Punjabi [ 46 kb pdf ]

PDF Staff/ Physicians/ Volunteers/ Students Brochure [ 162 kb pdf ]

PDF A Guide for Patients & Families about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) [ 318 kb pdf ]

PDF A Guide for Patients & Families about Advance Care Planning [ 305 kb pdf ]

Ethics Resources on the Internet:

Advance Care Planning
External LinksFraser Health: Advance Care Planning
External LinksA Guide to Advance Care Planning
External LinksCaring Conversations
External LinksFive Wishes
External LinksJoint Centre for Bioethics Living Will
External LinksLet Me Decide

Consent & Capacity
External LinksConsent & Capacity Board

Decision-making Guides for Patients
External LinksOttawa Health Research Institute

End of Life
External LinksDalhousie End of Life Project

Organ Transplantation
External LinksTrillium Gift of Life Network

Mental Health
External LinksCentre for Addiction & Mental Health: Resources for Patients, Families, and Friends
External LinksPsychiatric Patient Advocate Office (Info Guides)

External LinksInformation and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario

Substitute Decision-Making
External LinksOffice of the Public Guardian and Trustee


How do I contact the Ethicist?

Phone:  905-813-1100, x 4482


Credit Valley Hospital