Catholic Medical Conscience App

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Medicine and Health Sciences


Introduction: The Catholic medical ethic is supported by a rich intellectual tradition and remains foundational to the practice of medicine, especially within Catholic hospitals. In the US, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" (ERDs) is the cornerstone for practical application of ethical principles in a healthcare setting. A major barrier to said application remains, due to a lack of education regarding the ERDs and formal ethical reasoning. Objective: The purpose of this project is to create and maintain an application that presents common ethical dilemmas and walks the user through them by asking pertinent questions to elicit the central ethical questions. The goal is to inform the medical conscience and teach ethical reasoning. Methods: The application is organized in like manner to the ERDs with three distinct parts: Beginning of Life, During Life, and End of Life. Within each part are various relevant scenarios. Selecting a scenario begins a series of ‘yes or no’ questions aimed at guiding the provider through the unfamiliar waters of ethical decision making while they steer the ship with their medical knowledge. With the specific medical details relevant to the case, the provider ‘fills in the blanks’ and the application is able to make a moral recommendation based on scenario and the ethical tradition of the Church. Each question contains relevant citations/links and comments that provide further reasoning regarding the question and why it is important in getting to the crux of the matter at hand. Results: The application is currently available as "Catholic Medical Conscience App" on iOS and Android platforms. It features an easy to use interface that includes the ability to search by topic. This tool is free to use and capable of being updated and expanded upon by medical ethics experts. It has received a nihil obstat by Fr. C. Ryan McCarthy, censor liborum of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Conclusions: The application is a robust and adaptable tool for guiding physicians in ethical decision making for real-world scenarios. Backed by the immense moral tradition of the Catholic Church, it provides easy to follow logic and supplementary re-sources to not only parse particular questions, but also delve deeper into medical ethics in general.


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