Dr. Douglas White recently chaired an American Thoracic Society (ATS) policy group that released new guidelines for managing conscientious objections (COs) in ICUs. The guidelines were released in the January 15, 2015 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (AJRCCM).
Clinicians in ICUs sometimes may have a conscientious objection “to providing or disclosing information about a legal, professionally accepted, and otherwise available medical service,” according to the authors. Examples of medical services that clinicians may object to providing in certain circumstances include: disclosing information about the option of withdrawing artificial nutrition and hydration, offering or providing palliative sedation to unconsciousness, participating in organ donation, or providing advanced life support to patients with a poor prognosis. The policy statement provides recommendations for how to manage such conscientious objections.