Identifying Relevant Topics for Inclusion in an Ethics Curriculum for Anesthesiology Trainees: A Survey of Practitioners in the Field

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Cambridge quarterly of healthcare ethics : CQ : the international journal of healthcare ethics committees




anesthesiology; bioethics; ethics; resident education; trainee


Anesthesiology training programs are tasked with equipping trainees with the skills to become medically and ethically competent in the practice of anesthesia and to be prepared to obtain board certification, yet there is currently no standardized ethics curriculum within anesthesia training programs in the United States. To bridge this gap, and to provide a validated ethics curriculum to meet the aforementioned needs, in July 2021, a survey was sent to anesthesia scholars in the field of biomedical ethics to identify key areas that should be included in such an ethics curriculum. The responses were rated on a Likert scale and ranked. This paper identifies the top ten topics identified as high priority for inclusion in an anesthesiology training program and consequently deemed most relevant to meet the educational needs of graduates of an anesthesiology residency: (1) capacity to consent; (2) capacity to refuse elective versus lifesaving treatment; (3) application of surrogate decisionmaking; (4) approach to do not resuscitate (DNR) status in the operating room; (5) patient autonomy and advance directives; (6) navigating patient beliefs that may impair care; (7) "futility" in end-of-life care: when to withdraw life support; (8) disclosure of medical errors; (9) clinical criteria for "brain death" and consequences of this definition; and (10) the impaired anesthesiologist.


Emergency Medicine