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Ethics Program

The Children’s National Hospital (CNH) Clinical Pediatric Ethics Program offers education and support/consult services to faculty, staff and patients at (throughout the) CNH (network). Our team helps parents, patients and providers navigate ethical concerns and dilemmas that can present in all aspects of patient care. In addition to the clinical ethics consultation service, the Ethics Program is home to the Clinical Ethics Committee. 

The Ethics Program also educates clinicians, staff and trainees on clinical ethics through departmental rounding, monthly ethics education talks, and the yearly Leikin Lecture and Ethics Day, which is a full day of ethics education open to all faculty and staff.


Our support and consultation service is available to all patients, faculty and staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Ethics consultation aims to facilitate complex decision making for hospital staff, patients and families. We offer an open and collaborative space to discuss ethical considerations in a nonjudgmental forum with the goal of coming to an ethically appropriate and mutually agreeable plan.  Central to this process is enabling those involved in a patient’s care to gain perspective on the views of others through open and honest conversation.  We work together with staff and families using established principles within the bioethics tradition and best practices supported by research

Clinical Ethics Committee

The Ethics Program has a Pediatric Clinical Ethics Committee (CEC) consisting of both Children’s National employees and community members with a background in ethics. This committee meets monthly to discuss and advise on consults brought to the consult service to promote education and occasionally advise on relevant policy and practice revision. 

Members of this committee include ethicists, physicians and nurses from multiple specialties, social workers, chaplains, parent navigator, attorney, child life specialist, psychologist and community members with a background in ethics. This committee meets once a month to review recent cases, further their ethics education. 

If you are interested in applying to be a member for the clinical ethics committee, please contact us.

Clinical Ethics Issues 

The consultation service and clinical ethics committee are often involved in cases involving the following issues/questions:

  • Informed consent 
  • End of life decision making including the withdrawal and withholding of life-sustaining treatments
  • Withholding information from children and disclosure
  • Children’s participation in decision making/assent
  • Culturally sensitive care
  • Complex discharge planning
  • Prenatal screening/diagnosis and genetic testing
  • Children’s participation in clinical research 
  • Vaccination practice / hesitancy
  • Allocation of resources
  • Communication and confidentiality practices 
  • Moral distress

Request an Ethics Consult

You may contact the clinical ethics consultation service by email or pager at 202-259-2082.



Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my concern or dilemma is appropriate for an ethics consult?

What happens after I email or page the ethics committee?

What happens in an ethics case conference or consultation?