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Sources of bias in clinical ethics case deliberation
  1. Morten Magelssen1,2,
  2. Reidar Pedersen1,
  3. Reidun Førde1
  1. 1Centre for Medical Ethics, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Lovisenberg Diakonale Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Morten Magelssen, Centre for Medical Ethics, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Pb. 1130 Blindern, Oslo N-0318, Norway; magelssen{at}


A central task for clinical ethics consultants and committees (CEC) is providing analysis of, and advice on, prospective or retrospective clinical cases. However, several kinds of biases may threaten the integrity, relevance or quality of the CEC's deliberation. Bias should be identified and, if possible, reduced or counteracted. This paper provides a systematic classification of kinds of bias that may be present in a CEC's case deliberation. Six kinds of bias are discussed, with examples, as to their significance and risk factors. Possible remedies are suggested. The potential for bias is greater when the case deliberation is performed by an individual ethics consultant than when an entire clinical ethics committee is involved.

  • Clinical Ethics
  • Ethics Committees/Consultation
  • Interests of Health Personnel/Institutions

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