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Ethics and COI

Clinical Ethics

ATS members and others involved in the clinical practice of pulmonary medicine, critical care, and sleep medicine face complex ethical questions regularly. These challenges have led to an increasing amount of activities within the ATS that concern relevant issues and are intended to advise and assist clinicians, patients and families as they address them. For example, in recent years official ATS statements have been published on shared decision making, managing conscientious objections, responding to requests for potentially inappropriate therapies, ethical considerations in organ donation, and palliative care. Ethical issues have been discussed in manuscripts published in ATS journals and in sessions at the annual ATS International Conference, and a series of periodic Committee-developed podcasts on clinical ethics issues.

Clinical ethics resources specific to the COVID-19 pandemic are currently listed and linked within a special ATS COVID-19 Resources listing. Opinions expressed and resources shared may not have been reviewed by the ATS prior to distribution through ATS channels, or reflect official positions of the ATS, unless it is explicitly stated as such, after official ATS approval. References to specific commercial entities (companies) or products do not reflect review or endorsement by the ATS unless it is explicitly noted as such, after official ATS approval.

ATS Publications (official ATS statements and other relevant manuscripts published in ATS Journals; in chronological order):

ATS Podcasts

Other podcasts addressing clinical ethics issues, developed by ATS Assemblies and others, are available at Breathe Easy Podcasts.

ATS International Conference Sessions (available in the ATS Store):

See “Best of the ATS International Conference” at

Non-ATS Publications:

  • Billings JA, Block SD. The end-of-life family meeting in intensive care part III: A guide for structured discussions. J Palliat Med 2011; 14:1058-64. PMID: 21910613 (2011)
  • Truog RD, Campbell ML, Curtis JR, et al. Recommendations for end-of-life care in the intensive care unit: a consensus statement by the American College of Critical Care Medicine. Crit Care Med 2008; 36:953-63. PMID: 18431285 (2008)
  • Lautrette A, Darmon M, Megarbane B, et al. A communication strategy and brochure for relatives of patients dying in the ICU. N Engl J Med 2007; 356:469-78. This French study of family members of 126 patients that died in an ICU found the use of a brochure on bereavement combined with a proactive communication strategy lowered symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. PMID: 17267907 (2007)
  • Tonelli MR. Pulling the plug on living wills. Chest 1996;110:816-22. Discusses the difficulties and limitations of formulating and applying advanced directives. PMID: 8797430. (1996)

Non-ATS Online Resources:

Question or suggestions for the ATS Ethics and COI Committee

Contact Shane McDermott at ATS at or 212-315-8650.