Introduction. Ethics Consultation Services (ECS) and Ethical Committees manage several aspects of clinical ethical issues. In Italy there are only Ethical Committees, and, although they should also perform ethical consultations, their activity is limited to approving clinical trial protocols. Aim. To analyse the opinions of a sample of Nurses and Physicians about their motivations to ask for an ethical consultation. Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted on a sample of Italian Nurses and Physicians. Results. Respondents would request ethical consultations mainly for end-of-life issues and, secondarily, for conflicts with patients' families. Respondents identified the provision of suggestions for hospital policy, the development of ethical guidelines, and the counselling for individual cases requested by clinicians, patients or families as the most important functions of ECS. Conclusions. ECS activities should focus on counselling and support to decisions in complex ethical situations according to institutional policies and guidelines self-developed.
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