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How To Make A Referral To The Program

​​​​​​​​​​You can contact a Bioethicist when you have an issue of ethical concern and believe you could benefit from assistance in this area. For example, bioethicists are often contacted to assist Substitute Decision-Makers (SDMs) acting on behalf of a patient who cannot express his or her health care wishes. Sometimes family members need assistance in understanding this new role.

In other cases, a decision maker's views about treatment may differ from those previously expressed by the patient or the health care team.

Patients and family members can contact a bioethicist at all of UHN's hospital sites from Monday – Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Toronto General Hospital

416 340 4800 ext. 8750


Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

416 340 4800 ext. 2710


Toronto Western Hospital

416 603 5800 ext. 2521


Toronto Rehabilitation Institute

416 597 3422 ext. 3972


You can ask to speak with a hospital bioethicist if you are:

  • A patient
  • A family member directly involved in the patient's care
  • A patient's Power of Attorney for Personal Care or legal guardian
  • A member of the health care team directly involved in the patient's care

When you speak with the bioethicist, they can help:

  • Identify the ethical issues
  • Explore relevant facts, values and options
  • Ensure that the risks, benefits and alternative courses of action/ inaction are considered and understood
  • Assist and guide decision making
  • Provide mediation

The initial discussion is confidential, except in rare circumstances where the law requires disclosure – or disclosure is necessary to prevent imminent and serious harm. If this were the case, the bioethicist would tell you what information they will disclose. Once the initial discussion is over, the bioethicist decides if further consultation is needed.

If there's no need for any more discussion, the bioethicist may offer to refer non-ethical matters to a more appropriate service at UHN. For example, complaints or compliments about patient care are normally referred to UHN Patient Relations.

When further consultation is required, the bioethicist will often need to include other members of the health care team involved in a patient's care. The bioethicist will seek your consent before disclosing your information to the team.