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Get help with complex medical decisions

A family has a conversation while sitting together on a couch. The stress of a medical crisis shouldn't be compounded by family division.
The stress of a medical crisis shouldn't be compounded by family division.

If a medical emergency causes strife, you can find a course of action through Northwell Health’s ethics committee

When someone is very sick, loved ones all want what’s best — but they don’t always agree about what to do.

Sometimes conflicts come up over whether to continue treatment or when to use lifesaving methods such as CPR. Making medical decisions is especially complicated when there are no power of attorney or living will records.

But you can clear a path forward. The Northwell Health Ethics Committee’s clinicians specialize in bioethics, and they help people who have concerns about making medical decisions.

Individuals who struggle with making health care choices that reflect their personal values appreciate the assistance. Northwell’s clinical bioethicists help patients, their relatives and clinicians to clarify what feels right.

“Seeing hospital beds, tubes and lines through your loved one’s eyes — their desires, wants and dreams — relieves a conflicted family. We help restore peace as they recall that they have not made the difficult decision alone, and that their loved one’s wishes and values are first and foremost,” said Samuel Packer, MD, founder and chair of the Health Ethics Committee. Dr. Packer serves as Northwell’s chief of medical ethics; the Robert and Florence Kaufman Professor of Medical Ethics at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell; and codirector of the Hofstra University Bioethics Center.

You have no obligation to follow the committee’s advice, Dr. Packer added. How to move forward is up to you, your family and the health care team.

quotation mark You have no obligation to follow the committee’s advice. How to move forward is up to you, your family and the health care team.
Samuel Packer, MD

A remedy for ethical issues in health care

The Northwell Health Ethics Committee assists and advises at North Shore University Hospital, Long Island Jewish (LIJ) Medical Center, Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Zucker Hillside Hospital, Nassau University Medical Center and the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility.

A consultation with the Northwell Health Ethics Committee:

  • clarifies the nature of ethical concerns;
  • encourages discussion of ethical standards and responsibilities that relate to care;
  • promotes shared decision-making among patients, families and health care team members;
  • promotes cooperation for difficult decisions in chronic illness; and
  • provides objective recommendations.
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