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Clinical Ethics Committees in Norway: What Do They Do, and Does It Make a Difference?


The first clinical ethics committees (CEC) in Norway were established in 1996. This started as an initiative from hospital clinicians, the Norwegian Medical Association, and health authorities and politicians. Norwegian hospitals are, by and large, publicly funded through taxation, and all inpatient treatment is free of charge. Today, all the 23 hospital trusts (providing specialized and hospital-based healthcare services to the Norwegian population of 4.9 million people) have established at least one committee. Center for Medical Ethics (SME), University of Oslo, receives an annual amount of US$335,000 from the Ministry of Health and Care Services to coordinate the committees and to facilitate competency building for committee members.

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1. Pedersen, R, Førde, R.Hva gjør de kliniske etikkomiteene? [What are the clinical ethics committees doing?] Tidsskrift for Den norske lægeforening 2005;125(22):3127–9 (in Norwegian); Pedersen, R, Akre, V, Førde, R.Barriers and challenges in clinical ethics consultations: The experiences of nine clinical ethics committees. Bioethics 2009a;23(8):460–9; Pedersen, R, Førde, R. Fuzzy law encountering life, death, and morality: A report on nine clinical ethics committees’ legal considerations. In: Grunnin, J, Holm, S, Kerway, I.Ethics, Law & Society. Ashgate Publishing; 2009:149–63; Pedersen, R, Akre, V, Forde, R.What is happening during case deliberations in clinical ethics committees? A pilot study. Journal of Medical Ethics 2009b;35:147–52; Førde, R, Pedersen, R, Akre, R.Clinicians’ evaluation of clinical ethics consultations in Norway: A qualitative study. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2008;11:17–25.

2. See note 1, Pedersen, Førde 2005.

3. See note 1, Pedersen et al. 2009a.

4. See note 1, Pedersen et al. 2009b.

5. See note 1, Førde et al. 2008.

6. Smith, ML, Bisanz, AK, Kemper, AJ, Adams, B, Candelari, TG, Cranford, R.Criteria for determining the appropriate method for an ethics consultation. HEC Forum 2004;16(2):95–113.

7. Kliniske etikk-komiteer [Clinical ethics committees]; available at (last accessed 9 Dec 2010).

8. See note 1, Pedersen, Førde 2005.

9. See note 1, Pedersen et al. 2009a.

10. See note 1, Førde et al. 2008.

11. Newson, AJ, Nietzke, G, Reiter-Theil, S.The role of patients in European clinical ethics consultation. Clinical Ethics 2009;4(3):109–10.

12. Neitzke, G.Patient involvement in clinical ethics services: From access to participation and membership. Clinical Ethics 2009;4(3):146–51.

13. Fournier, V, Rari, E, Førde, R, Neitzke, G, Pegararo, R, Newson, AJ.Clinical ethics consultation in Europe: A comparative and ethical review of the role of patients. Clinical Ethics 2009;4(3):1311–44.

15. Kallager, G, Førde, R, Pedersen, R. Er drøftingen av pasientsaker i kliniske etikk-komiteer nyttig? Sett fra klinikernes ståsted. [Are case discussions in clinical ethics committees useful? Clinicians’ views.] Tidsskrift for Den norske lægeforening (forthcoming).

14. Førde, R, Hansen, RWR.Involving patients and relatives in a Norwegian clinical ethics committee: What have we learned? Clinical Ethics 2009;4:121–30.

16. Schneidermann, LJ, Gilmer, T, Teetzel, HD, Dugan, DO, Blustein, J, Cranford, R, et al. . Effect of ethics consultations on nonbeneficial life-sustaining treatments in the intensive care setting: A randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2003;290(9):1166–72.

17. Schick, IC, Moore, S.Ethics committees identify four key factors for success. HEC Forum 1998;10(1):75–85.

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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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