The importance of ethics in medicine today

Hospital ethics committees got their start in the early 1980s to guide decision making with patient care issues. Policy establishment was critical, especially when the issues of limitation of care, self-determination for health care, and privacy were venturing into nightly newscasts and private conversations. In the era of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, definitions of medical futility, legal battles over treatment decisions, and other high visibility events made the work of these committees even more important.

Dr. Fred Whitehouse and I co-chaired an ad hoc committee to create the first Henry Ford Hospital (HFH) Ethics Committee over 30 years ago. Our corporate attorney John Mucha was part of the committee at its inception. We were recently talking about this work, and he noted the HFH policy on withdrawal of care, modeled loosely on a Massachusetts General Hospital policy, is a policy that withstood the test of time. Literally hundreds of difficult decisions were made with its guidance.

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Into the deep waters of health care

immersion
[ĭ-mer´zhun]

  1. the plunging of a body into a liquid.
  2. the use of the microscope with the object and object glass both covered with a liquid.
  3. a state of being deeply involved in something.

HFH multidisciplinary team during rounds.

A popular approach to gaining exposure and understanding of health care is immersion. These experiences generally take an individual who has passing or limited direct health care knowledge and place them in situations or environments where they can get some understanding of this world. A world that those of us in the trenches live each day, but others find foreign. Foreign sights, sounds, smells, language and actions. A foreign business model, foreign processes. This is the tip of the spear of health care, and to understand health care one needs to have an unimpeded view of how care is delivered and the reality of modern health care.

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What I love about Canada

Canada DayIn honor of Canada Day and Canada’s 150th birthday, I’d like to share what I love about the magnificent country located south of the border (OK, I know it is basically north, but which direction do you drive over the Ambassador Bridge?):

Canadian nurses, Canadian employees, Canadian patients, the maple leaf, “O Canada,” Canadian bacon, Canada Dry ginger ale.

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Why heart and soul should be valued the most

I had the honor of speaking to this year’s graduating class of the Henry Ford Health System Leadership Academy. It was a wonderful opportunity to congratulate this diverse and talented group of individuals, chosen for their current and potential leadership, and to see the many projects that they had initiated during their nine-month training.

Henry Ford Health System Leadership Academy – 2017 Graduates

I was asked to provide words of wisdom to share with them on their leadership journey. Quite honestly, the older I become the less wise I believe I am and the more humble I am about giving others advice.

I did share my thoughts about careers and organizations, despite a world in which ties to an organization for a career or even for long periods of time are a thing of the past. Many of the young tell me they expect to be employed by many organizations in their career. More experienced leaders talk about the need to be in many organizations to become the best leader possible.

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The moment.

The incomprehensible can occur in a moment. Something unexpected, let alone unimaginable, happens, reminding all of us that all we ever have is the moment we are in. Reminding all of us how precious that moment we live in truly is. Reminding all of us that we are a heartbeat away from eternity.

There are no words or thoughts that provide comfort or bring an explanation to the inevitable question of “why?” There is no answer. There is only the reality that is faced in dealing with senseless loss, a life ended too soon, a lifetime of remembrances never formed.

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Celebrating doctors today and every day

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Today is National Doctors Day. As I noted in a previous blog post, this celebration was started humbly in 1933 by the wife of a Georgia doctor. Nearly 60 years later President George H. W. Bush signed Proclamation 6253 establishing National Doctors Day to recognize physicians for “their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury…”

There are many celebrations of other professions, causes and holidays. So why single out doctors?

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Farewell to the one who made things happen

Our individual professional success is greatly dependent on the many people who assist and partner with us along the way. To arrange our days, to keep us on track, and to serve to make us more effective in what we do. To represent us and to cheerlead for us. To make us far better than we can be when left to our own devices.

My great fortune is to have had Pat Pillon as my right hand. No one has had a greater impact on my ability to get things done during my HFH career.

Pat Pillon (front row, fifth left) is pictured with her husband and colleagues at her retirement party.

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