Consultation-liaison psychiatry and clinical ethics: a model for consultation and teaching.


The consultation-liaison psychiatrist is often expected to perform the role of clinical ethicist or moral arbiter in the course of responding to psychiatric consultations. This article develops the idea that certain aspects of good consultation-liaison skills make this appropriate and consultation-liaison psychiatrists ought not to shy away from helping with difficult ethical problems. However, a systematic approach to clinical ethics is usually not part of consultation-liaison training. Two simple conceptual models can provide such a systematic approach and can be used in any clinical setting. The two models can also be easily taught and lend themselves to use in structuring teaching or case conferences about clinical ethics. The first model comes from formal philosophy (summarized by Veatch) and is a four-step hierarchy of levels of moral discourse. The other model comes from clinical medicine, based on work by Siegler, and provides another four-point checklist, this time of areas that must be considered in each decision. This article presents each of these four-point frameworks, alludes to the large amount of work that underpins these ostensibly simple models, and offers a case for demonstration/discussion of how the consultation-liaison psychiatrist use the models for structuring clinical ethical decision making and teaching.

Cite this paper

@article{Hayes1986ConsultationliaisonPA, title={Consultation-liaison psychiatry and clinical ethics: a model for consultation and teaching.}, author={Jimmy R Hayes}, journal={General hospital psychiatry}, year={1986}, volume={8 6}, pages={415-8} }