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December 1993 (Volume 71)
Diane E. Hoffmann
Milbank Memorial Fund
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More than 60 percent of hospitals have ethics committees. The widescale, voluntary adoption of these committees by hospitals is surprising, given the lack of data on their effectiveness. Little effort has been made to evaluate such committees, in part because of the lack of consensus on their purpose. The argument presented here is that, from a policy perspective, the committees’ purpose must be to safeguard patients’ interests; a framework for evaluating committees based on that objective is outlined. The criteria for evaluation include access, quality, and cost effectiveness. Existing data are used to assess ethics committees, using these criteria. Based on available data, it is questionable whether ethics committees are performing any better or worse than alternative mechanisms to achieve the same goal.
Author(s): Diane E. Hoffmann
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Volume 71, Issue 4 (pages 677–701) Published in 1993
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The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.