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Clinical Ethics Committees in hospitals (completed)

The Centre for Medical Ethics (CME) has been given the responsibility for national coordination and professional development of the clinical ethics committees in Norwegian health trusts/hospitals. The health trusts themselves are responsible for establishing and maintaining the committees.

This project merged with Ethics in community health services in 2017.

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About the project

CME is responsible for professional development and coordination of the ethics committees in Norwegian hospitals, including responsibility to supervise, evaluate, and do research related to the committees’ work.

CME offers different types of support to the committees. The centre contributes to committee work directly (for instance by being dedicated members of committees), and by developing competence in the committees through courses, seminars and other activities.

CME holds annual seminars for CEC-members. Both 2-day seminars «Introduction to clinical ethics» and «National Fall Conference» are held annually and well-attended by CEC-members. In addition, seminars with topics of interest are held from time to time, for instance «Seminar about Capacity to Consent» with visiting Professor Paul Appelbaum.

Background for the project.

Clinical Ethics Committees

Clinical ethics committees (CEC) are cross-disciplinary with members from different clinical settings in the hospital, as well as external members who bring legal or ethics competence. Some also have patient or lay-representatives as members. Each Norwegian health trust must have at least one CEC. The committees contribute to hightened competanse of medical ethics, thereby being able to identify, analyze and, if possible, solve ethical dilemmas related to patient care.

This is done by:

  • Promoting communication and reflection about ethical problems and dilemmas.
  • Upon request, give advice about how to handle specific ethical problems, or be a forum where treating staff can discuss such problems prospectively or retrospectively.
  • Contribute to raising consciousness about ethical problems tied to resource allocation and prioritization.
  • Contribute to the patients’ and next of kins’ encounter with the hospital being as good as possible

The committees discuss cases prospectively or retrospectively, arrange seminars for health care staff, and write guidelines for ethically challenging questions. Their work has been evaluated several times since 2004. For instance, a survey from 2011 indicated that the clinicians who had referred individual patient cases to be discussed in a CEC, by and large found the CEC’s discussion useful.

The CECs are encouraged to write annual reports of their activities, cases, membership, budgets and plans. These are sent to CME where they are summarized and become part of the annual report written by CME. Most of these reports are available on our website (in Norwegian).


CME receives an annual funding of approximately 2.5 million kroner from the Norwegian Directorate of Health for this Project.

References and publications

Published Oct. 9, 2015 1:35 PM - Last modified Oct. 19, 2021 3:09 PM


Professor Reidun Førde is the project manager. She is also a member of the CEC in Norway’s national hospital, Rikshospitalet.