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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

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Regional Ethics Committees (RECs)

Difficult Decisions

groupAs individuals grow older and struggle with advanced illness and frailty, they, their families, and their care providers will likely be faced with difficult decisions about their care and treatment.

Decisions can include whether to provide or remove particular treatments, such as dialysis or artificial nutrition, adjust medications, or refer to palliative care or hospice.

For individuals in long-term care communities, the Ombudsman provides support and ensures that decision-making is resident-focused and consistent with ethical and legal standards.

One way the Ombudsman does that is through Regional Ethics Committees (RECs). RECs provide an impartial, comprehensive evaluation and assessment of the situation and offer non-binding recommendations to the individuals involved.

RECs provide much-needed education, conflict resolution, and ethical guidance to facilities and families when difficult decisions need to be made.

Ethical Decisions at End-of-Life Ombudsman Process

As with all of the Ombudsman’s work, the primary focus of the process is to ensure that the resident’s wishes are respected. The Office works with the resident, his or her family and friends, and facility staff to identify the resident’s wishes, wherever possible.

In addition to exploring the resident’s wishes, the Office also gathers clinical information regarding the resident’s cognition, condition, and prognosis, to ensure that legal standards for withholding/withdrawing treatment are met.

Regional Ethics Committees (RECs)

  • Multi-disciplinary teams, including social workers, nurses, clergy, and hospice workers
  • Established to serve as a resource to residents and health care professionals of LTCF’S who face ethical dilemmas:
    • Treatment decisions
    • Health care conflicts
    • Withholding/withdrawing LST
    • Quality of life issues
  • Consultation not required and recommendations not legally binding but can often resolve ethical dilemmas as close to the bedside as possible.

NJ Supreme Court Case Law

  • In re Quinlan, 70 N.J. 10 (1976)
  • In re Conroy, 98 N.J. 321 (1985)
  • In re Farrell, 108 N.J. 335 (1987)
  • In re Peter, 108 N.J. 365 (1987)
  • In re Jobes, 108 N.J. 394 (1987)
Ethics Committee Contact List

Last Updated: Tuesday, 12/03/19