What Is Bioethics?

Bioethics is the discipline that addresses ethical issues that arise in the health care setting, including those related to life and death, cure and comfort, truth telling and trust reflected in patient care and decision making. These are moral issues central to decision making and the provision of patient care. The concerns of bioethics are the well-being and dignity of the patient; the rights, responsibilities and choices of the patient, family and care team; and matters of justice and access to care. In practice, bioethics includes behaviors that promote dignity, fairness, honesty, compassion and trust in all interactions between and among the health care team, patients and families.

Bioethics is about behaviors and ways of thinking that care professionals exhibit routinely, whether or not they call them “bioethics.” For example, bioethics can be seen in actions that protect the confidentiality of patients’ medical information, ensure that patients are given the opportunity to complete advance directives, and create a care environment that promotes patient dignity and comfort. Recognizing that these matters are especially important to those who give and receive care, Hackensack University Medical Center provides staff, patients and families confidential access to bioethics counsel and guidance in making difficult decisions.

The Bioethics Service also provides teaching for medical students, residents and nurses; forums for discussion of ethical issues in the news, as well as in the medical center; collaboration with other disciplines; participation on medical center committees and projects; and policy development and review.

What Does the Biomedical Ethics Committee Do?

The Hackensack University Medical Center Biomedical Ethics Committee is a multidisciplinary group, including a full-time bioethicist, physicians, nurses, social workers, clergy, administrators, and lay members.

The committee is a forum for education, case and policy review, analysis and recommendation that meets on a regular monthly and as-needed basis to:

  • Identify and consider ethical issues that arise in the Medical Center
  • Explore different approaches to health care decision making in the Hackensack University Medical Center setting and provide recommendations for resolving ethical dilemmas in patient care
  • Participate in developing and reviewing Hackensack University Medical Center policy when matters of ethics are involved
  • Assist in consultations when requested by the Bioethics Consultation Service and provide consultation assessment
  • Provide educational programs about bioethical issues, within both Hackensack University Medical Center and the wider community.


All deliberations of the Hackensack University Medical Center Clinical Ethics Consultation Service and Biomedical Ethics Committee are confidential and all information and records are protected. There is no charge for these services.

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