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Frameworks

Ethics tools and frameworks can help all of us to reflect on the ethical dimensions of a particular case or situation. Numerous ethical tools and frameworks have been developed that are relevant to a broad range of health ethics related issues, including clinical care, public health, pandemic planning, resource allocation, moral distress and more. The following are provided here as a few examples. Contact your regional ethics contact for more information on the ethics tools, frameworks and processes used in your health region.


  • MB-PHEN Ethical Decision-Making Framework for decisions directly involving patients
    This framework is intended to be a resource for health care providers and staff who are faced with a difficult ethical decision. It is not a prescription or a care map. Rather, it is a guide to help individuals and teams have effective conversations to find ethical solutions to difficult problems, and prepare to engage in discussions with patients, clients, residents and families.
  • MB-PHEN Ethical Decision-Making Framework for decisions involving administrative, leadership, support service or other non-clinical situations
    This framework is intended to be a resource for managers, leaders and support staff who are faced with a difficult decision that does not directly involve patients. It is a guide to help individuals and teams find ethical solutions to conflicts between values and priorities in the workplace, while balancing personal and organizational values effectively.
  • Debriefing an Ethics Event
    Once an ethics event has occurred, it is important to review the process and the outcome. This discussion guide will help you debrief the event and evaluate what occurred, the decision made, and methods used. This process can help provide closure and learning for those involved in a difficult encounter or decision.
  • Patient and Family Decision Guide
    This is a tool that may be helpful for individuals and families who are faced with difficult personal health or social decisions. The developers of this tool, housed at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, have given permission to use and share this resource. It is short, uses simple language, and walks people through identifying the decisions they need to make, weighing out their values and influences, and then implementing the decision.
    Downloadable PDFs can be found on the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute's website, as well as a video of someone using the guide, and a number of translations. There is a version for individuals, one for families, and another that was adapted in consultation with a First Nations, Inuit & Metis women's group in Ottawa.

General Ethics Frameworks
These tools can be useful for many different kinds of ethical situations.

Clinical Ethics Frameworks
Clinical Ethics Frameworks are most useful in clinical or bedside situations.

Organization/Management Ethics Frameworks
Organizational or management ethics frameworks can help address some of the more administrative, non-clinical issues that arise in health care.

Applying an Ethics Lens to Policy

  • Ethical Considerations in Policy Development and Review - Guiding Questions for Ethics Committees
    Policy development and analysis anticipates the potential ethical challenges with operationalization and compliance, and provides opportunities to address those challenges prior to implementation.
    This document was adapted from the Winnipeg West Integrated Health and Social Services Policy Development Protocol. It sets out a series of questions to be applied in discussions on new and revised policies.

Building an Ethics Infrastructure