Ethics committees in Croatia in the healthcare institutions: the first study about their structure and functions, and some reflections on the major issues and problems.
SourceHec Forum : an Interdisciplinary Journal on Hospitals' Ethical and Legal Issues, 18, 1, (2006), pp. 49-60
Article / Letter to editor
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Ethics, Philosophy, History of Medical Sciences
Hec Forum : an Interdisciplinary Journal on Hospitals' Ethical and Legal Issues
SubjectEBP 4: Quality of Care; NCEBP 5: Health care ethics
OBJECTIVES: In Croatia, ethics committees are legally required in all healthcare institutions by the Law on the Health Protection. This paper explores for the first time the structure and function of ethics committees in the healthcare institutions in Croatia. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey of the healthcare institutions (excluding pharmacies and homecare institutions) to identify all ethics committees. SETTING: Croatia six years after the implementation of the Law on the Health Protection. MAIN MEASUREMENTS: Structure and function of ethic committees in the healthcare institutions. RESULTS: 46% of the healthcare institutions in Croatia (excluding pharmacies and homecare institutions) have an ethics committee; 89% of ethics committees have 5 members 3 of whom are from medical professions and 2 come from other fields; 49% of those committees stated that their main function is the analysis of research protocols. Only a small fraction of those ethics committees sent in standing orders, working guidelines or other documents that are connected with their work. CONCLUSIONS: Although there are legal provisions for ethics committees in the healthcare institutions in Croatia, there is an evidence of discrepancies between the practice and the "Law on the Health Protection," suggesting the need for revision of the law. There is a need for creating separate networks of HECs and IRBs in Croatia. In comparison with other countries, the development of ethics committees in Croatia has some similarities with other transitional societies in Europe. Additional research should be undertaken in the work of ethics committees in Croatia in order to understand committees' group dynamics, attitudes, and knowledge.
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