The program was founded in 1974 as the Division of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Department of Community Health and Family Medicine at the University of Florida. Funding of the program has been made available by various organizations, including the NIH Endowment for the Humanities, Mrs. Grace H. Osborn, and other private foundations.
In 1990, two faculty members, Ray Moseley, PhD, and Jim Wagner, PhD, MDiv, formed the Florida Bioethics Network. This organization is dedicated to understanding and resolving ethical and legal problems arising in health care and research in Florida’s hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, managed care organizations and teaching institutions.
The program faculty offer a wide variety of expertise in the interdisciplinary world of bioethics, including education and consultation regarding end-of-life issues, stem-cell research, genetic engineering, health care equity, research design, and public policy. They are highly qualified and available daily for students, faculty, patients, and staff.
What We Do
The UF BLMP faculty are dedicated to educating patients and healthcare professionals across Alachua County regarding issues of ethical significance. BLMP faculty participate in UF Health’s advance directives outreach initiative and work to engage faculty and staff, across many disciplines, to raise awareness about the importance of making early healthcare decisions.
The BLMP faculty also staff the Ethics Consult Service for UF Health Shands Hospital. This is a 24/7 on-call service designed to address the needs of patients, their loved ones, and their health care providers when issues of ethical import arise.
Many healthcare choices involve an ethical concern or conflict. Ethical concerns may be triggered by events such as a patient’s wish to refuse seemingly tolerable life-sustaining treatment, or by patients and/or family members requesting treatments that are likely to be harmful. Difficult decisions can quickly become overwhelming. The ethics consultant is available to hear such concerns and provide recommendations informed by ethical analyses, a large bioethics literature, and Florida law.
Requests for a consultation may be made by the patient, a family member, the physician, the social worker, nurse or other staff member. To request a consultation, one can call the Ethics Consult Service number (352-265-8900) to send a message to the consultant on call. The ethics consultant will then attempt to return the call within 24 hours. Most requests receive a response on the same day. Hospital staff may request an ethics consultation directly via SPOK (search for “ETHICS – Ethics Consult Team – Primary First Call”).
The goal of this process is to promote the best possible medical care in situations wherein the available options all seem to be disappointing or inadequate. Concerns about the ethics of a situation or treatment recommendation can often be resolved via a discussion with the ethics consultant. More serious issues are taken up by a subgroup of several ethics consultants who discuss the situation at hand and formulate one or more recommendations. The most serious issues result in Ethics Consultation Team meetings in which a larger group of consultants develop a careful analysis and recommendations. Sometimes it is helpful to schedule a meeting that might include the patient, family members, and members of the treatment team as well as members of the Ethics Consultation Team. Recommendations are then shared with the patient, family, and the care team as appropriate. Lastly, the physician in charge of the patient’s care may choose to follow some or all of those recommendations while in consultation with the patient, family, and care team members.