“If an acute event occurs, what should we do?” Diverse ethical approaches to decision-making in the ICU

Federico Nicoli, Paul Cummins, Joseph A. Raho, Rouven Porz, Giulio Minoja, Mario Picozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The aim of this paper is to analyze an Intensive Care Unit case that required ethics consultation at a University Hospital in Northern Italy. After the case was resolved, a retrospective ethical analysis was performed by four clinical ethicists who work in different healthcare contexts (Italy, the United States, and Switzerland). Each ethicist used a different method to analyze the case; the four general approaches provide insight into how these ethicists conduct ethics consultations at their respective hospitals. Concluding remarks examine the similarities and differences among the various approaches and offer a reflection concerning the possibility of a shared resolution to the case. The authors’ efforts to come to a tentative consensus may serve as an example for professionals working in medical contexts that reflect an increasing pluralism of values. This article aims to respond to some of these concerns by illustrating how different methods in clinical ethics would be used when considering a real case. The goal is not to establish the best model (if there is one) on a theoretical level, but to learn from actual practice in order to see if there are common elements in the different methods, and to validate their pertinence to clinical ethics consultation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-486
Number of pages12
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2019


  • Clinical ethics consultation
  • Decision-making
  • Ethical approaches
  • Methods


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