NSHEN Health Ethics Case Database

National Health Ethics Week 2019 – Difficult Conversations


This database of cases was developed as a educational tool to support ongoing efforts to enrich your capacity to recognize, analyze and address ethics concerns related to patient/ family-focused care, professional practice, and policy development. You are free to use the content of this resource for your teaching and learning needs; we ask only that you acknowledge the Nova Scotia Health Ethics Network (NSHEN) as the source.

Unless otherwise indicated, the cases presented here are fictional or have had significant details fictionalized to respect confidentiality and privacy concerns. Some have been adapted from previously published materials (details indicated following the case).

How to Use the Database

You can search the cases on this website using the 4 drop-down menu headings at the top of this page (Health Issues, Ethics Issues, Values and Areas of Health Care Delivery) or the list of Categories on the right side. (Both options give you the same search terms.) In order to search for terms that may appear within the text of the cases, you may use the Search field in the top right corner of each page.

Each case in the database includes one or more questions as well as a list of relevant values and ethics issues to help get the discussion started. These are only suggestions and certainly not exhaustive- feel free to adapt the cases, discussion and analysis to suit your own learning needs. As you consider a case, keep in mind that often there is no single “right” answer, but some will be “more right” than others. Reflecting on this and trying to understand why it may be so is a big part of working through the analysis and developing potential solutions for each case.


Some of the cases refer to a particular decision-making tool and these frameworks are also available to you on the NSHEN website.

There is a Resource page on this website that includes several resources that provide some case analysis and discussion.

You may download this case database as a PDF document on the NSHEN website.

It is NSHEN’s intent that this database will grow and change over time. If you have cases or references/ resources that have been helpful to you or would be instructive for others, please let us know. Please contact NSHEN at krista.mleczkoskerry@iwk.nshealth.ca with any questions or for more information.

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