The purpose of this article is to highlight ways in which institutional policymakers tend to insufficiently conceptualise their role as ethics practitioners. We use the case of blood product recall notification as a means of raising questions about the way in which, as we have observed it, discourse for those who make institutional ethics policies is constrained by routine balancing of simplified principles to the exclusion of reflexive practices—those that turn ethics reasoning back on itself. The latter allows ethics practitioners with comparatively little formal training to take ownership of traditional parameters, which define their discussions and ultimately ought to make them more insightful when doing ethics. Thus, in the midst of calls for more training to increase the competency of ethics committees, we suggest that an additional problem of how these lay ethicists conceive of their roles also needs to be addressed.
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Competing interests: None.