Clinical ethics department

Children’s Minnesota focuses on kids first by offering clinical ethics services to our families and staff. The clinical ethics department offers 24/7 clinical ethics consultations to assist in clarifying ethical dilemmas, such as:

  • Complex and end-of-life decisions about foregoing treatment and allowing natural death
  • Use of invasive technology when the child will be permanently dependent
  • Disagreements within a family about the right actions
  • Rights and responsibilities of parents
  • Disagreements between the physician, others on the health care team and family about the right actions
  • Balance of harms and benefits for high-risk procedures
  • Adolescent autonomy in decision making
  • Balancing confidentiality and the best interest of the child

Information for health professionals

Understanding the role clinical ethics plays in patient care can sometimes be unclear. We have developed these sets of triggers to assist you in understanding when the appropriate times are to consult clinical ethics for assistance. Of course, these triggers are not an exhausted list, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have even if they are not presented on this list.

Plan of care

  • There is no plan of care
  • The patient has not been told/is not aware of the plan of care
  • There is a plan, but it is not documented in the chart
  • The patient in question has multiple co-morbidities
  • There is prolonged decision-making
  • There are concerns about the appropriateness of the plan of care

End of life

  • Advance directives
  • Assigned power of attorney for health care for 18+ year olds
  • Allow Natural Death/Limited Therapy (AND/LT)
  • Withdrawing or withholding treatments
  • The continuation of life-sustaining treatments as opposed to comfort measures only


  • Poor communication across providers
  • Poor communication or persistent disagreement between family, providers and the patient
  • Disruptive family
  • Matters related to confidentiality or health information disclosure


  • Questions of uncertainty related to the patient’s cognitive capacity for 18+ year olds
  • Patient is persistently, unreasonably in non-compliance with treatment plan
  • Patient is persistently, unreasonably refuses medical intervention
  • Patient is severely agitated or is displaying threatening behavior

Members of the ethics committee include broad community and hospital representation.


Need an ethics consultation or have questions?

Email [email protected].