Health care ethics & decisions
At Kaiser Permanente, patients play an essential role in making decisions about their care. That’s why the Bioethics Program in our San Diego Service Area works with both members and staff to promote a successful shared decision-making process.
Our Bioethics Program works with patients, their families and loved ones, and the health care team when ethical questions, conflicts, or uncertainty arise. We also provide training and education to our staff and the community to help them better understand bioethical issues.
Bioethics Program Resources
Clinical Ethics Consultation Service
The Clinical Ethics Consultation Service helps patients, their families and friends, and health care providers come together to discuss challenging medical choices in a confidential manner. While we encourage patients to talk to their doctors and other members of their health care team first, the Bioethics Director, Bioethics Co-chair, or another individual experienced in clinical ethics is available to help when there are unresolved questions or concerns.
People have personal values and beliefs that shape their choices about medical decision making. We can help to consider what choice is best for you, and how to go about acting on that choice.
Our clinical ethics consultation service can help you to:
- Improve communication between patients, families, and the health care team to ensure all voices are heard, understood, and respected.
- Identify and make clear the values and beliefs of all involved.
- Facilitate understanding of the ethical dimensions of available options.
To request a consultation:
To request a Bioethics Consultation you may contact the Bioethics Director or Consultant through the Medical Center Operator or ask a member of your health care team.
San Diego Service Area Operator: 619-528-5000.
The Bioethics Committee is co-chaired by a clinical ethicist and a physician. In order to ensure a variety of viewpoints, committee members come from many professions and backgrounds, including physicians, nurses, chaplains, social workers, staff members, and volunteers from the community.
The Bioethics Committee:
- Reviews cases to make sure we are providing ethically appropriate care that is consistent with our policies and standards.
- Works to sustain an ethical environment of care at Kaiser Permanente.
- Educates both our patients and our health care team about the ethical aspects of medical care.
Advance Care Planning/Life Care Planning
Life Care Planning is Kaiser Permanente’s name for a process more commonly known as advance care planning. The Life Care Planning program supports and encourages members to:
- Think about and clarify values and beliefs that guide choices about medical treatment, including choices about when to use medical technology, when to continue or forego medical treatment, quality of life, and end-of-life care.
- Communicate your values and beliefs with family and those who may be involved in medical decision making.
- Select someone you trust to make your health care decisions if you are unable to do so yourself.
- Complete your Advance Directive.
Kaiser Permanente offers workshops to help members successfully navigate the Life Care Planning process.
- To register for a class, speak with your physician or contact the Center for Healthy Living at 619-641-4194.
- You can also find a list of available classes in your area at:
- Additional Online resources and information are available at:
We encourage you to call with your questions about health care decisions and ethics.
Bioethics Committee Physician Co-Chair: Anne Marie Birkbeck-Garcia, MD
Medical Bioethics Director: Paula Goodman-Crews, MSW, LCSW