Answering the Call for Standardized Reporting of Clinical Ethics Consultation Data.J Clin Ethics. 2020 Summer; 31(2):173-177.JC
Benchmarks against which healthcare ethics consultation (HCEC) services can assess their performance are needed. As first-generation benchmarks continue to be developed, it is the obligation of the field to continually evaluate how these measures reflect the performance of any single HCEC service. This will be possible only with widespread reporting of standardized data points. In their article in this issue of The Journal of Clinical Ethics, Glover and colleagues provide a valuable preliminary approach for assessing appropriate consult volumes for a HCEC service. The limitations of their study read as a call to action for the field of clinical ethics to expand and standardize data reporting so that more robust metrics can be developed. In response to this call by Glover and colleagues, the Cleveland Clinic HCEC service provides consult data from 2015 through 2019 for one of its medical centers, and offers an additional volume-based metric, consult-to-ICU-to-bed ratio (CiBR), that may add nuance to any normative assessment of HCEC service consult volume. Given that volume-based metrics are the native language of the clinical environment, efforts to improve such metrics in the field through transparency and standardization are warranted. However, the expositive power of volume- based metrics is limited; additional domains related to quality and outcomes are needed.