Clinical ethics

The RACP Clinical Ethics Working Party have curated a set of resources to encourage Fellows and trainees to reflect on the role clinical ethics plays in their own practice and in their healthcare settings.

Professional development | Trainee education | Clinical ethics services | Study | Related content

RACP Clinical Ethics Position Statement

The RACP Clinical Ethics Position Statement 2020 (December 2020) recognises ethics as a fundamental part of health care and makes explicit the need for both education in clinical ethics for medical professionals, and for Clinical Ethics Support Services to be embedded within the health care systems of Australia and New Zealand. It advocates a more formalised approach to clinical ethics be adopted to better support practitioners in the contemporary health context.

Professional development

Every clinical encounter has an ethical dimension. Ethical reflection and analysis are an integral part of clinical practice and requires clinicians to have a strong foundation in ethical principles, reflection and reasoning. You can further develop your clinical ethics capacity and have it count towards your continuing professional development.

Curated Collections — Ethics | RACP Online Learning Resources (member login required)
Access peer-reviewed CPD resources on ethics.

Professional Skills — Ethics | RACP Online Learning Resources (member login required)
Broaden your understanding of ethics through this resource as you learn about, discuss and reflect on the main ethical issues facing physicians.


Pomegranate Health Ep37: Ethical Dilemmas — Congress 2018
As medicine becomes more sophisticated, discussions about clinical ethics become more common. It’s now possible to support life in dire clinical circumstances, but physicians are not always sure if this is the right thing to do. This episode centres around ethical decision-making in 2 case studies.

Pomegranate Health Ep59: Essential Ethics in Paediatrics

When can a child be said to have cognitive capacity and bodily autonomy? For those who don’t, where does the guardianship of the parent to give way to that of the medical professionals? These questions and more are discussed in 2 case studies from within the Children's Bioethics Centre in Melbourne.

Essential Ethics
The Essential Ethics podcast series is produced by the Children's Bioethics Centre at The Royal Children's Hospital (Melbourne, Australia). The series is hosted by Professor John Massie, a clinician and bioethicist at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, and member of the RACP Ethics Committee. Essential Ethics presents discussion of challenging cases that come up when treating children. A range of topical and informative topics reflect current thinking and draw knowledge from the ethics toolkit.

Trainee education

Ethics is embedded in the Basic and Advanced Physician Training Programs through the Professional Practice Framework and Professional Qualities Curriculum (PDF).

In the Basic Training Program, trainees are required to undertake the Professional Skills — Ethics online course through RACP Online Learning Resources (member login required).

In the Advanced Training Program, program requirements are set by the Training Committees for all 35 programs. In the current curricula, Advanced Trainees are required to complete reflective exercises demonstrating competency in the Professional Qualities Curriculum.

Beyond the curricula, trainees at all levels are encouraged to develop their clinical ethics capacity.

Clinical ethics services

Healthcare delivery is becoming increasingly complex. On occasions, clinicians and healthcare organisations need access to appropriate guidance and support to help navigate these challenges. Increasingly, this support is being provided by various models of clinical ethics support locally and overseas.

Setting up a service

NHMRC Consensus Statement on Clinical Ethics

NHMRC Clinical Ethics Capacity Building Resource Manual

Support services


South Eastern Sydney Local Health District — Clinical Ethics Service

Sydney Children's Hospital Network Clinical Ethics Service

Plunkett Centre for Ethics, St Vincent's Hospital

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne — Clinical Ethics Service

ACT Health — Clinical Ethics Committee

Central Adelaide Local Health Network Clinical Ethics Committee:


Medical Journal of Australia — The ethics of clinical ethics services

AJOB Empirical Bioethics — Developing clinical ethics support for an Australian Health Service: A survey of clinician’s experiences and views

Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management — Leading ethical decision-making: Clinical ethics services in Australia

Medical Journal of Australia — Is there a future for clinical ethics services in Australia?

NSW Health, Clinical Ethics Support Literature Review (PDF)

The Oxford Handbook of Health Care Management — Clinical Ethics Support in Contemporary Health Care

Aotearoa New Zealand

Clinical Ethics Support in Contemporary Health Care: Origins, Practices, and Evaluation (PDF)

The role of clinical ethics in the health care system of New Zealand

Clinical ethics support services in New Zealand — tailoring services to meet the needs of doctors (PDF)

Patient participation in clinical ethics support services — Patient-centred care, justice and cultural competence (PDF)

What are clinical ethics advisory groups for? (PDF)


Canada | Alberta Health Services — Clinical Ethics

Canada | British Columbia Children’s Hospital — Clinical Ethics

Canada | Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto

Canada | The Ottawa Hospital, Ethics Consultation Service

Canada | Québec, CIUSS West-Central Montreal — Clinical Ethics Service

Singapore | National University of Singapore Centre for Biomedical Ethics

USA | Brigham Health — Ethics Consultation Service

USA | Mayo Clinic Health System — Medical Ethics Consultations

USA | University of Illinois Hospital & Health Science System — Clinical Ethics Consult Service

USA | US Veterans Affairs — National Centre for Ethics in Health Care

UK | Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children — Clinical Ethics Service

UK | University of Oxford, ETHOX Centre — Ethics Support

Related content

RACP: COVID-19 — Ethics and Health Law curated resources

RACP Online Congress Series 2020

RACP Ethical Guidelines

RACP Ethical Guidelines for Occupational and Environmental Physicians (PDF)

Building Clinical Ethics Capacity – Final Report of the Developing Clinical Ethics Capacity in NSW Partnership Project (PDF) | Doran, E., Fleming, J., Kerridge, I., Stewart, C., September 2014

Ethics and High Cost Drugs seminar

How much is enough? Spending on high cost medicines

Presented by Dr Narcyz Ghinea (June 2019).

Competing interests in the prescribing of high cost cancer medicines

Presented by Dr Wendy Lipworth (June 2019).

Using clinical ethics to help with decisions around nutrition and hydration

Dr Linda Sheahan and Dr Helen Irving (October 2019)

Associations and societies

American Society for Bioethics and Humanities

The Hasting Centre — Service to Bioethics

International Association of Bioethics

International Conference on Clinical Ethics and Consultation

University of Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics

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