Through the Summer Research Fellowship Program at Northeast Ohio Medical University, medicine or pharmacy students gain intensive training in research procedures by working (often side by side) with research mentors. In addition to these students, who are paid a stipend by NEOMED, other NEOMED students found funding on their own for summer 2019 internships or programs elsewhere in Ohio, as well as at institutions including the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Harvard University.
The Summer Research Fellowship Program culminates each year in an event called Poster Day. Below is a reflection by second-year College of Medicine Yaa Bosompim on her summer experience.
This summer, I completed a retrospective study (that is, of patients who had already been seen) of ethical cases at Akron Children’s Hospital. Most of the ethical issues we found in those former consults involved parents or the hospital deciding to forgo life-sustaining treatments because the prognosis was not looking good, because the treatment would not be beneficial, or because it was determined that it would not be ethical to keep going.
Another trend I found was decision-making capacity, because most of the medical conditions observed, about 23% were psychological in nature. You would think because it’s a children’s hospital, you would see a lot of cancer and hematology cases, but there are quite a few psychological cases.
Another common theme that kept emerging was the rights of the parents versus the hospital, because most of the cases were abuse-related or psychological. In some cases, parents decided to forgo treatment because of religious beliefs, even if their child had a good prognosis. When that happens, the hospital steps in to make those decisions.
Ethical consults at Akron Children’s began in 2002 and over the past 18 years, have increased. The Ethics Committee went from two physicians to nearly 30 diverse professionals. Even though we’re seeing that increase in more cases and increase in the diversity of the individuals on the committee, we have not seen an increase in the health professionals calling these consults. Most cases are initiated by doctors, instead of nurses and other professionals, which is alarming because these are the individuals that spend more time with the patients and the family. So they often have more insight in identifying resources.
All the data that we collected was placed into a database called REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), but only 71 of those former ethical cases or consults were actually analyzed. Those consults were put into the database and we found some trends that described the type of health care professionals, common consults, common diseases and ethical issues.