Widespread interest in VA ethics program

VA wants to partner on material distribution

The IntegratedEthics program developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for its facilities, which comprise the largest health care system in the United States, has drawn interest and attention both domestically and internationally.

Ellen Fox, MD, chief ethics in health care officer for the VA, tells Medical Ethics Advisor that there is interest from a variety of countries in developing not only ethics standards for providers within their countries, but also perhaps developing global standards for ethical care.

Fox says that she has given many presentations on the IntegratedEthics approach.

"We've presented the Integrated Ethics model at professional conferences throughout the U.S., and also in Canada and Europe, and we've gotten very positive feedback," Fox says.

The VA has had discussions with a variety of organizations about the adoption of the VA's ethics material and program, including the province of Alberta, the public health system in Canada and Japan, where the material has been translated into Japanese for use in health care institutions in that country, she says.

"I would point out that this program has just been released within the VA within the last year, so this is the year for us to start sharing beyond VA what we're doing," Fox says. "I mean, we haven't really emphasized that, because we've been focusing on our internal launch. But that's well established, and we've had success in implementation internally, and we are poised to share the results externally."

Towards that end, the VA ethics center is seeking partners to distribute its materials

"We think it will require more than just putting [the materials] on our web site," Fox says.

As further example of the interest in the program, the VA says that "In the past year alone, the Internet site for the National Center for Ethics In Health Care (www.ethics.va.gov/) has had over 96,000 files related to IntegratedEthics downloaded by visitors.

Internet referral visits resulting in these downloads have come from the web sites of over 22 major U.S. educational institutions, including Harvard University, Yale University, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins and Columbia."

"International referrals have come from 54 nations representing a cross section of countries from Australia to Zimbabwe."