Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, founded as a Catholic hospital in 1968, follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services as outlined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The stated purposes of the Ethical and Religious Directives are to:

  • "Reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person
  • "Provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today"

The Ethical and Religious Directives address six main areas:

The following information is a brief summary of each part and is not intended as a substitute for the official document. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services may be found on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

Part 1: The Social Responsibility of Catholic Health Care Services

Guided by the example of Jesus Christ and moral tradition, Catholic health care institutions:

  • Promote and defend human dignity
  • Provide for the health care needs of those on the margins of society
  • Exercise responsible stewardship of available health care resources
  • Show mutual respect among caregivers
  • Serve patients and their families with compassion
  • Promote medical research consistent with Catholic moral principles
  • Educate staff and require adherence to the Ethical and Religious Directives
  • Treat staff respectfully and justly

Part 2: The Pastoral and Spiritual Responsibility of Catholic Health Care

As a witness to Christ’s healing compassion, Catholic health care institutions:

  • Provide a full range of religious and spiritual services to patients, visitors, and staff
  • Work closely with local parishes and community clergy
  • Have appropriate professional preparation for pastoral care staff
  • Provide access to the sacraments, including Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, and, in cases of emergency, Baptism

Part 3: The Professional-Patient Relationship

Respect for human dignity guides Catholic health care institutions to:

  • Exhibit mutual respect, trust, and honesty
  • Provide appropriate confidentiality
  • Nurture a truly interpersonal professional-patient relationship
  • Adhere to advance directives that comply with Catholic moral principles
  • Maintain an Ethics Committee for medical ethical consultations

Part 4: Issues in Care for the Beginning of Life

Following in the natural and moral laws of the sacredness of every human life, Catholic health care institutions:

  • Uphold the dignity of children and their parents
  • Are committed to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to natural death
  • Are dedicated to the care of women and their children before, during, and after birth
  • Uphold medical practices that do not undermine the sanctity of life, marriage, and family

Part 5: Issues in Care for the Seriously Ill and Dying

Rooted in the Church’s belief that every person is created for eternal life, Catholic health care institutions:

  • Provide a community of respect, love, and support for those who are dying and their families
  • Provide effective management of pain and nutrition when not excessively burdensome or when there is reasonable hope of benefit
  • Offer appropriate opportunities to prepare for death
  • Do not hasten death through technological or medical means, euthanasia, or assisted suicide

Part 6: Forming New Partnerships with Health Care Organizations and Providers

When Catholic health care institutions are developing partnerships with other organizations and providers, the Catholic institution must:

  • View the partnership as an opportunity to witness their religious and ethical commitments
  • View as an opportunity to realign how health care is delivered and provide equitable access to basic care for the poor and vulnerable
  • Confirm that the partnership is built on common values and moral principles
  • Perform a systematic and objective moral analysis guided by the diocesan bishop and other appropriate church authorities

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital’s Patient Care Advisory Committee/Ethics Committee

The Patient Care Advisory Committee at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital:

  1. Provides ethical consultations in an advisory capacity regarding specific patient care situations which have ethical considerations. Examples include end-of-life decisions, advance directives, surrogate decision-making, and disruptive behavior.
  2. Educates and increase the level of awareness among physicians, nurses, and other clinical personnel regarding issues of medical ethics.
  3. Reviews hospital policies related to issues of medical ethics and makes recommendations as to the content of such policies.

For more information about the committee or to schedule a consultation, please call 443-444-4818 and select option 5.

Special Event

Watch our Celebration and Reaffirmation of Our Catholic Tradition, which took place on Nov. 10, 2015.