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Health care ethics & decisions

At Kaiser Permanente, we believe patients play an essential role in making decisions about their care.

That’s why the Bioethics Program at our Downey Medical Center works with both members and staff to help them communicate about difficult topics.

Our Bioethics Program helps patients and their families make decisions when ethical questions or conflicts arise.

We also provide training and education to our clinical staff and the community to help them understand different medical bioethical issues.

Bioethics Program Resources for Kaiser Permanente Members and Staff

Bioethics Consultation Service

The Bioethics Consultation Service helps patients, their families and friends, and health care providers come together to talk about difficult medical choices in a private and confidential manner.   While we encourage patients to talk to their doctors and other members of their health care team first, the Clinical Ethicist, a specially trained individual is available to help when there are unresolved questions or conflicts.

Sometimes, opinions differ about what should be the right thing to do when making health care decisions. People have personal values and beliefs that shape these choices. We can help to consider what choice is best and how to go about acting on that choice.

Bioethics Consultation can:

  • Help with communication between patients, families and the medical team to ensure all voices are heard.
  • Identify and make clear the values and beliefs of those involved.
  • Clarify what decisions need to be made.
  • Get to the root of any disagreements to seek moral understanding.
  • Facilitate understanding of ethical norms amongst available choices.

The best way to request an ethics consultation or to even determine if a request should be made is to call the Downey Medical Bioethics Director, Alain P. Durocher, PhD, at 567-652-6956.  For emergencies, Dr. Durocher can be paged at 562-272-5997.

Medical Center Bioethics Committee

The Bioethics Committee, chaired by a clinical ethicist and a physician, meets on a regular basis.  Committee members come from many professions and backgrounds, including physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, staff members, volunteers from the community and Kaiser Permanente members. It is important for us to include a variety of professions and backgrounds in an attempt to remain unbiased.

The Bioethics Committee:

  • Reviews cases to make sure we are following our policies and practices.
  • Works to improve the ethical atmosphere of Kaiser Permanente.
  • Educates both our members and our medical staff about the ethical aspects of medical care.

Advance Care Planning

We are faced sometimes with difficult choices about when to use medical technology, how to decide if its use will benefit us or our loved one, how we want to live, and how we want to die. Advance Care Planning is a process that supports and encourages members to:

  • Think and clarify values and beliefs that guide choices about medical treatment.
  • Communicate your values and beliefs with family and those who will be involved in medical decision making if you cannot speak for yourself.
  • Make shared decisions with your physicians.
  • Complete advance directives.

Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center offers classes to help members think and plan for their future health.

  • To register for a class, speak with your physician or contact Health Education at 562-622-4150.

Resources for Advance Care Planning

Additional Resources

Contact Information

We encourage you to call with your questions about health care decisions and ethics.

Medical Bioethics Director:  Alain P. Durocher, PhD

Bioethics Committee Physician Co-Chair:  Tim Hickey, MD

Special Events

  • National Healthcare Decisions Day
    Week of April 16, annually
    For more information call: 562-657-6956