Decisions in health care can be complex for patients, families health care professionals and organizations. Providence provides professional consultation and education in health care ethical and moral decision making.

Educational resources include our library, monthly ethics conferences and regularly scheduled workshops. Ethics consultation and referral is available from the Ethics Director; call 509-474-3097.

Providence offers an internship in Applied Health Care Ethics to undergraduate and graduate students, which is coordinated through the Philosophy department at Gonzaga University. This three-credit program is available during the fall, spring and summer semesters. Contact your advisor for more information, or to apply.

This interdisciplinary committee, which include physicians, nurses, social workers, administrators and pastoral care staff meets regularly to advise Providence administration on ethical and moral issues. The committee is chaired by the Ethics Director. The work of the committee includes:

  • Planning ongoing education for clinical staff and community members on health care and organizational ethics
  • Developing and reviewing policies related to ethical and moral concerns
  • Reviewing processes to guide ethical and moral decision-making (such as care conferences) and ensuring these are available to patients, families and staff
Click here to read the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, Health Care Directives to Physicians and Living wills ("Health Care Directives") are all advance directives that help your loved ones and your health care providers know and honor your wishes - especially about end-of-life care, when you cannot speak for yourself. Once completed, it is very important that you discuss your wishes with the person(s) you choose to speak for you so they know your preferences. Keep copies and give a copy to your Durable Power of Attorney. You should bring a copy of your directives with you to the clinic or when you are admitted to the hospital so that they can be entered into your medical record. Facilitys taff can help you complete directives if you so desire.

The POLST form is a "portable" Physician Order form that describes the patient's code directions. It is intended to go with the patient from one care setting to another. It also replaces the current EMS form that gives code directions to emergency response staff in a patient's home. It translates a patient's stated wishes into physician orders.


The POLST is not an Advance Directive and does not take the place of one. A POLST form represents a way of summarizing wishes of an individual regarding life-sustaining treatment. The form is intended for any individual with a serious illness. The form has two major purposes: it is portable from one care setting to another, it translates wishes of an individual into actual physician orders.

An attending physician, ARNP or PA-C must sign the form and assume full responsibility for its accuracy. Patients should still be encouraged to complete an Advance Directive and name a Health Care Representative.

Staff will honor the directions on the POLST form while the nurse attempts to reach the physician to clarify code status/orders, unless the patient or surrogate indicates they do not want those directions followed and can provide specific patient values and reasons behind not honoring a POLST in the inpatient context. Admitting physicians are expected to address code status within the first 24 hours of admission.