Institutional Ethics Program

The Institutional Ethics Program is a joint commitment of the UTMB Health System and the Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities which recognizes that uncertainty, confusion and tension regarding different individual, professional, social and institutional values often produce complex ethical issues and questions. The Program is composed of the Clinical Ethics Consultation Service, the Integrated Ethics Program, Institutional Ethics Committee(IEC), and numerous educational and academic endeavors.

Institutional Ethics Tabs

  • The Clinical Ethics Consultation Service is an integral component of patient care services for the UTMB Health System. Patients, their families, and health care practitioners sometimes face ethically difficult, confusing, or conflicting choices. When this happens, one may not be sure how to make the “best” or “right” choice. The CECS facilitates discussion, analysis and understanding of ethical issues in patient care, and provides ethically appropriate recommendations for solving problems arising in health care practice and research.

    What is an Ethics Consultation?

    Patients, their families, and health care practitioners sometimes face ethically difficult, confusing, or conflicting choices. An ethics consultation facilitates discussion, analysis, and understanding of these patient care issues. Consultants provide recommendations when conflicting individual, professional, social, and institutional values lead to ethical uncertainty. CECS exists to provide assistance in making these kinds of choices.

    Examples when an ethics consult may be needed include when a family is unsure how to make decisions for the patient when the patient can no longer communicate his or her wishes; or when health care practitioners disagree about what’s in a patient’s best interest or quality of life assessments. Wondering whether or not to call the CECS about a particular situation may be a good prompt to contact us. We are happy to discuss any issue you may be facing and not every discussion needs to be a “formal” consultation. All conversations are confidential and provided at no cost to the patient or department.

    Who May Request an Ethics Consultation?

    The CECS is available to, and may be requested by, patients and their families, physicians, researchers, nurses, allied health professionals, and administrators.

    When you call, the Ethics Consultant will…

    • Promote a process of open, shared decision-making among the participants in the consultation
    • Facilitate a discussion about the ethical concerns identified and possible responses to them
    • Communicate the relevant conclusions and follow-up recommendations of the consultation to appropriate individuals
  • The goal of attending patient rounds and interdisciplinary meetings is to:

    • Offer a more proactive service by anticipating potential dilemmas or deliberating nascent issues.
    • Provide opportunities to engage in educational ethical issue discourse.
    • Instill the ethicist with an understanding of the environment, context, and culture by which each team navigates.
    • Provide another agile mechanism of formal ethics consultation requests.
  • The Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC) is an officially constituted committee of The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), reporting to the Office of the President, under the leadership of the Director of the Ethics Program. The IEC works in conjunction within the Ethics Program to provide comprehensive, integrated ethics support for the institution.


    The IEC provides a multidisciplinary forum for the analysis and discussion of ethical standards affecting patient care, professional education and community interests in service to the organizational mission to improve health. This mission is fulfilled through the Committee’s advisory, educational, policy development, and service functions.


    The IEC is committed to the promotion of high ethical standards in all of its operations and recognizes its responsibility in protecting and promoting the rights and responsibilities of its members. The IEC supports UTMB’s Values of compassion, integrity, respect, diversity, lifelong learning as outlined below:

  • This is a link that will take you outside of the Institute of Bioethics and Health Humanities. Please CLICK HERE to continue

The Program

was launched informally in the late 1970s, by Dr. William J. Winslade after receiving a growing number of ethically complex telephone inquiries from healthcare providers who were seeking answers to questions they felt were outside of their expertise. In 1985 UTMB's first Ethics Service was operational and it was clear that this resource was needed but also that it needed to be more comprehensive. In 1993, Dr. Michele A. Carter came to UTMB to create a "systematic, institutionalized service." Dr. Jeffrey S. Farroni joined UTMB in 2016 to build upon this strong foundation, coupled with the continued institutional commitment, to further integrate and innovate the service to adapt with changes in health care and increasing complexities of the clinical enterprise.

Requesting a Clinical Ethics Consultation

EPIC Ethics Consult Order
Page: (409) 643-9650
Call: (409) 747-1230 (Business Hours)

You can also access the schedule on Amcom-Smart Web HERE

Mailing Address
Ethics Consulting Service
UTMB Health
301 University Blvd.
Galveston, TX 77555-1311

Ethics Consultant Team

Jeff S. Farroni, PhD, JD
Jeff S. Farroni, PhD, JD
Director, Institutional Ethics Program


Emma Tumilty, PhD
Assistant Professor


Callie Terris, JD, MS
Clinical Ethics Fellow


Marcy Sifuentes
Marisela Sifuentes
Administrative Coordinator