Ethics support in hospitals

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Healthcare professionals are often confronted with ethically challenging situations. A sound ethics education is therefore indispensable. In view of the complexity of many medical-ethical questions, health-care institutions are also increasingly introducing ethics support structures. The SAMS offers guidelines and assistance.

Ethics education pursues two goals: on the one hand, that ethically sensitive situations are in the first place recognized as such, and on the other hand, to develop appropriate options for action. The SAMS has developed recommendations on ethics education and training for health professionals. These offer a comprehensive compilation of recommended learning contents.


The recommendations also address suitable examination formats, the transfer from theory to practice and the training of ethics lecturers. The importance of interprofessionality, as well as the relationship to law and communication skills are also deepened.


SAMS recommendations: Ethics training for health professionals (2019)


«Ethics support» is the term used for all forms of the explicit development and promotion of ethical expertise, skills and attitudes which support decision-making in daily clinical practice, for instance in counselling in individual cases and in ethics committees. Ethics support tasks also encompass the drafting of ethical guidelines and the organisation of advanced- and further-training courses within a health-care institution. The Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMS) has observed and promoted the further development of ethics support since 2002. However, it also evaluates this development critically and also published recommendations in 2012.


SAMS recommendations: Ethics support in medicine (2012)




lic. theol., dipl. biol. Sibylle Ackermann
Head Department Ethics
Tel. +41 31 306 92 73