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The Ethics Liaison Program: building a moral community
  1. Sarah R Bates1,2,
  2. Wendy J McHugh1,
  3. Alexander R Carbo3,4,
  4. Stephen F O'Neill1,
  5. Lachlan Forrow1,4
  1. 1 Ethics Support Service, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Center for Bioethics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Hospital Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4 Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Sarah Ruth Bates, Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics 641 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02115 sarah.r.bates{at}


Ethicists often struggle to maintain institution-wide awareness of and commitment to medical ethics. At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), we created the Ethics Liaison Program to address that challenge by making ethics part of the moral culture of the institution. Liaisons represent clinical and non-clinical areas throughout the medical centre. The liaison has a four-part role: to spread awareness and understanding of Ethics Programs among their coworkers; share information regarding ethical dilemmas in their work area with the members of the Ethics Support Service; review ethics activities and needs within their area; and undertake ethics-related projects. This paper lists the notable attributes of the Ethics Liaison Program, and describes the purpose and structure of the programme, its advantages and the challenges to implementing it. The Ethics Liaison Program has helped to make ethics part of the everyday culture at BIDMC, and other medical centres might benefit from the establishment of similar programmes.

  • Ethics Committees/Consultation
  • Clinical Ethics
  • Applied and Professional Ethics

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  • Contributors WM, LF and SON established the Ethics Liaison Program. WM leads the Ethics Liaison Program. SB, WM, AC, SON and LF drafted and revised the paper.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.