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Ethics & Decision Making in Critical Illness

Program on Ethics and Decision Making in Critical Illness


The University of Pittsburgh Program on Ethics and Decision Making in Critical Illness is the first program in the country dedicated to the study of ethical issues and decision making in critical illness. The ethics of critical care medicine requires focused scholarly attention because ICUs bring together several difficult aspects of modern medicine: dying patients, expensive technological care, and resource scarcity. The program focuses on both normative bioethical issues and also empirical questions, such as to what extent the ethical goals of surrogate decision making are achieved in practice. We seek to improve the practice of critical care medicine through empirical and normative research, and also through leadership in the field of critical care ethics. 

Current Projects

Identifying Effective Strategies to Disclose Prognosis:  Physician-Family Communication in Patients with Acute Lung Injury (EC-ALI)

Family Support Intervention in the Intensive Care Unit:  A randomized trial to improve surrogate decision-making for critically-ill elders  (The Four Supports Study)

The Ethics of Making Life Support Decisions for Incapacitated Patients without Surrogates