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Ethics consultants help families navigate tough hospital choices

Robert Olick, JD, PhD and Thomas Curran, MDLife-and-death decisions were once made exclusively by doctors, but nowadays those matters are largely in the hands of patients. This can create conflict as relatives disagree over how to treat a failing patient, for example, and that‘s where ethics consultants can help. Two such consultants at Upstate University Hospital – neonatologist Thomas Curran, MD (at right in photo), and attorney Robert Olick, JD, PhD (at left), who are both bioethics and humanities faculty members at Upstate – explain how they try to clarify and resolve the issues and offer non-binding advice. Using a real-life case, they stress the importance of making one‘s end-of-life wishes known, in advance, and choosing a health care proxy who will help carry out those wishes.