The Ethics of Hospital Trusteeship

Edited by Bruce Jennings, Virginia A. Sharpe, Bradford H. Gray, and Alan R. Fleischman

(Georgetown University Press, 2004)

Serving on a hospital’s board of trustees requires confronting a variety of difficult ethical problems that are almost never discussed and rarely recognized even by trustees themselves. In spite of the attention paid to medical ethics and bioethics, little has been paid to the ethical roles and responsibilities of those who are ultimately in charge of hospital governance: hospital trustees.

Deriving from a Hastings Center research project involving meetings with a national task force of experts and extensive interviews with 98 nonprofit hospital trustees and CEOs over a two-year period, The Ethics of Hospital Trustees shows that the decisions made by these often overlooked members of the health community do raise important ethical issues, and that ethical dimensions of trustee service should be more explicitly recognized and discussed.

Practical as well as theoretical, The Ethics of Hospital Trustees uncovers four basic principles: 1. Fidelity to mission; 2. Service to patients; 3. Service to the community; and 4. Institutional stewardship. In delineating the extremely important functions of hospital trustees, from patient safety to financial responsibility, the contributors outline not only how hospital trustees do perform―they give a fresh understanding to how they should perform as well.

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