Emerging Experiences with Virtual Clinical Ethics Consultation: Case Studies from the United States and Malaysia

Eman Mubarak, Sharon Kaur, Mark Tan Kiak Min, Mark T. Hughes, Cynda H. Rushton, Joseph Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AbstractThe COVID-19 pandemic has inspired numerous opportunities for telehealth implementation to meet diverse healthcare needs, including the use of virtual communication platforms to facilitate the growth of and access to clinical ethics consultation (CEC) services across the globe. Here we discuss the conceptualization and implementation of two different virtual CEC services that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic: the Clinical Ethics Malaysia COVID-19 Consultation Service and the Johns Hopkins Hospital Ethics Committee and Consultation Service. A common strength experienced by both platforms during virtual delivery included improved ability for local practitioners to address consultation needs for patient populations otherwise unable to access CEC services in their respective locations. Additionally, virtual platforms allowed for enhanced collaboration and sharing of expertise among ethics consultants. Both contexts encountered numerous challenges related to patient care delivery during the pandemic. The use of virtual technologies resulted in decreased personalization of patient-provider communication. We discuss these challenges with respect to contextual differences specific to each service and setting, including differences in CEC needs, sociocultural norms, resource availability, populations served, consultation service visibility, healthcare infrastructure, and funding disparities. Through lessons learned from a health system in the United States and a national service in Malaysia, we provide key recommendations for health practitioners and clinical ethics consultants to leverage virtual communication platforms to mitigate existing inequities in patient care delivery and increase capacity for CEC globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalThe Journal of clinical ethics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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