Bioethics Consultation Service - VA Palo Alto Health Care System
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VA Palo Alto Health Care System


Bioethics Consultation Service

In health care, patients and families often face the difficult question of “what should be done?” The best choice for one patient may be the wrong choice for another. Your VA health care team is there to help you with these tough decisions. But if you are still not sure about what is right or what should be done, you may wish to request an ethics consultation.

What is an ethics consultation?

Ethics consultation is a service provided by specially trained VA staff. When there is uncertainty or conflict about the right thing to do, ethics consultants work with patients, families and staff to help them make good decisions to resolve these concerns.

When should I think about asking for an ethics consultation?

Daughter hugging father "I have to make a serious decision about a treatment that could affect how long I may live. After talking it over with my health care team, I am still not sure I agree with the doctor’s recommendation.”
“Our family is unsure and upset. We don’t agree about the right thing to do for our brother’s care.”
“The treatment team has told us that dialysis could be started but we're not sure if this is what our father would want. Can you help us figure out how to decide?”

What happens in an ethics consultation?

Group of people talkingEthics consultants will not make a decision for you—they will make sure that everyone’s point of view is heard. They will also:

  • Ask about your concerns.
  • Gather information from all the people involved.
  • Determine if other experts are needed.
  • Identify possible options.
  • Make recommendations to you and the other people involved.
  • Write a note in your health record if the ethics consultation relates to your medical care.
  • Ask you to fill out a feedback form that lets the ethics consultation team know about your overall experience.

How do I request an ethics consultation?

Phone keys

  • Ask your VA health care team to request a “Bioethics Consult” in the medical record system; or
  • Contact the Patient Advocate for Palo Alto: (650) 493-5000, x65544.

Contact Info


  • 3801 Miranda Ave
    Palo Alto, CA 94304
    Building 520

Contact Number(s)

  • 650-493-5000 Ext. 11-65544

Hours of Operation

  • M-F 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.