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National Center for Ethics in Health Care

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National Ethics Committee Reports

The National Ethics Committee was a standing subcommittee of the Executive Committee of VHA's National Leadership Board from 2000 - 2011. Its interdisciplinary and broadly representative membership included VHA leaders and staff. The committee was overseen by the National Center for Ethics in Health Care and provided guidance on pressing ethical issues of concern to VHA through concise, readable reports for VHA clinicians, managers, and researchers. The NEC's activities are currently suspended.

The NEC reports are intended to heighten awareness of ethical issues, articulate widely accepted standards in health care ethics, and provide practical, usable guidance for VHA practitioners, health care managers, and health policymakers to improve the quality of patient care. In preparing its reports, the committee sought input from those VHA program offices that had special interest in an issue, such as offices responsible for VHA policies related to the topic area, and from appropriate field-based staff.

Please note: The information contained in NCEHC publications is current as of the date of publication. However, health care ethics is a dynamic field in which best practices and thinking are constantly evolving. Therefore, some information in our publications may become outdated or may be superseded. We note these instances when they occur. We encourage users to consult additional authorities on these topics, including current VA policy and regulation. 

To request access to any of the following articles, please email

Ethical Considerations That Arise When a Home Care Patient on Long Term Oxygen Therapy Continues to Smoke (March 2010) 

Advance Directives for Mental Health: An Ethical Analysis of State Laws & Implications for VHA Policy (February 2008)

Impaired Driving in Older Adults: Ethical Challenges for Health Care Professionals (September 2007)

Ethical Aspects of the Relationship Between Clinicians & Surrogate Decision Makers (April 2007)

The Ethics of Palliative Sedation (March 2006)

Compensation to Health Care Professionals from the Pharmaceutical Industry (February 2006) 

Disclosing Patients' Protected Health Information to Surrogates (February 2005)

Online Patient-Clinician Messaging: Fundamentals of Ethical Practice(July 2004)

Gifts to Health Care Professionals from the Pharmaceutical Industry (October 2003)

Ethical Boundaries in the Patient-Clinician Relationship (July 2003)

Disclosing Adverse Events to Patients (March 2003)

Ten Myths about Decision-Making Capacity (September 2002)

Recommendations for the Ethical Conduct of Quality Improvement (May 2002)

An Ethical Analysis of Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (August 2001)

Advance Proxy Planning (December 2000)

DNR Orders and Medical Futility (December 2000)