Dial an Ethicist

Professor Clare Delaney (Departmental of Medical Education, top left) has teamed up with two colleagues to create a hub of clinical ethics expertise, and a consultation service for individual clinicians and health organisations and services that do not have their own embedded clinical ethicists.

The Melbourne Clinical Ethics Group (MCEG) comprises three experienced clinical ethicists who have joint positions at Melbourne University and major tertiary public hospitals in Melbourne. They are also co-authors of the book, When Doctors and Parents Disagree (The Federation Press, 2016).

  • Professor Lynn Gillam (MSPGH) is an experienced clinical ethicist, who founded and continues to lead the clinical ethics service provided by the Children’s Bioethics Centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Professor Clare Delany (MMS) is a clinical ethicist at the Children’s Bioethics Centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital and a consultant clinical ethicist at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.
  • Dr Rosalind McDougall (MSPGH) has been involved in providing clinical ethics support in hospitals since 2008, and co-founded the Australasian Clinical Ethics Network. She is a consultant clinical ethicist at Austin Health.

Clinical ethics is about making good decisions in ethically complex situations.  The MCEG works with clinicians and focuses on practical approaches to ethical challenges in individual patient care situations and across different clinical fields and patient care settings. These may include adult and paediatric, chronic and acute, and in-patients and out-patients.

A guided clinical ethics discussion can be helpful in clinical situations of conflicting views or uncertainty about the best way forward for a patient.

MCEG leads clinical ethics research projects, conducts clinical ethics consultations and contributes to clinical ethics teaching.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCEG has produced several publications and online education and clinical ethics tools:

The consultancy arm of MCEG offers four main services:

  1. Clinical Ethics Consultations: a process to help clinicians ensure that they have carefully and thoroughly considered all moral aspects of cases. In the uncommon situations where clinicians feel they cannot fully achieve what they believe to be the best outcome for a patient, ethics consultations and discussion can assist in alleviating and giving staff tools to address moral distress.
  2. Clinical Ethics De-brief: involves an ethicist leading and facilitating a discussion about a past ethics challenge. The goal is to assist staff to process, reflect on and address moral distress arising from a past experience or to identify and analyse ethical dimensions of the experience.
  3. Clinical Ethics Education and Training 
  4. Clinical Ethics Policy Advice: to health professional bodies and government, including: advance directives for patients, withdrawal and withholding of life-sustaining medical treatment, COVID-19 related ethical challenges.

For more information, contact Professor Clare Delany via c.delany@unimelb.edu.au


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Clare Delany