A national survey of hospital ethics committees

S. J. Youngner, D. L. Jackson, C. Coulton, B. W. Juknialis, E. M. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


A telephone survey of 162 randomly selected hospitals was conducted to identify existing ethics committees, i.e., those with the potential to become involved in the decision-making process in specific cases. Using the number of acute care beds as the criterion, hospitals were divided into 2 groups: (1) over 200 beds; n = 400; (2) 200 or fewer beds; n = 202. Chairpersons of identified committees completed detailed questionnaires. Seventeen committees were found - approximately 1% of all U.S. hospitals. A typical committee included physicians, clergymen, and other professionals. Almost all committees were advisory, not decision-making bodies, and considered very effective by their chairpersons. Ethics committees have not, however, solved current medical ethical problems; nor have they allayed the concerns of patients' rights advocates about patient representation and control. Further study is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)902-905
Number of pages4
JournalCritical Care Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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