Treuman Katz Center Director of Education Dr. Douglas Diekema Receives the William G. Bartholome Award for Ethical Excellence from the American Academy of Pediatrics

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Doug Diekema, MD, MPH

The William G. Bartholome Award for Ethical Excellence recognizes those who have significantly impacted public discussion of ethical issues in pediatric medicine.It was presented to Dr. Doug Diekema during the Section on Bioethics program at this year’s American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference on October 13, 2014.

Diekema is a leader nationally in creating educational materials for teaching medical ethics. When the center was founded in 2005, there were not many resources for teaching medical ethics: there were no comprehensive textbooks suitable for teaching ethics in pediatrics.

This led Diekema to create and publish a pediatric residency ethics curriculum in 1997 to train medical students and residents. Seventeen years later, the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) now requires that programs for pediatric residents include “structured curriculum in medical ethics that addresses the ethical principles of medical practice and the ethical aspects of a physician’s relationship to patients, other physicians, and society.” He is a contributing author to the AAP Section on Bioethics’ case-based online modules for training residents and fellows. He serves as one of the three editors who oversee the project. Diekema is the past chair of the Committee on Bioethics for the AAP and serves on the Ethics Committee of the ABP, where he helps maintain an annotated bibliography of journal references, book chapters and online resources in bioethics that are available on its website.

In 2011, he and two other editors published Clinical Ethics in Pediatrics: A Case-Based Textbook. Each chapter begins with a case to ground the ethical issues and concepts in real life examples from the clinical realm. Topics range from issues related to confidentiality, end-of-life care, new technologies and professionalism, including boundary issues, conflicts of interests and relationships with industry. The textbook provides a comprehensive introductory text on clinical ethics for healthcare providers who take care of children and a teaching resource for those who teach ethics to medical students, residents and others.

Another aspect of Diekema’s educational outreach is program development at Seattle Children’s. He has been instrumental in creating curricula for teaching ethics to residents and medical students here and is an integral part of the annual weeklong intern retreat, where interns discuss topics like errors in medicine, difficult conversations and everyday ethics with each other and retreat faculty. “We work hard to keep the topics current and to have a strong ethics component in the intern retreat,” comments Diekema.

While medical students who have not seen many patients may struggle some with the relevance of bioethics, “residents get it, they realize it’s a part of medicine,” comments Diekema. “Bringing students and residents to that realization involves teaching bioethics in a way that is less philosophical and more practical, with ethical principles being grounded in real-life cases.”

Diekema has authored and contributed to policy statements and guidelines on far-ranging topics for professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He has authored more than 150 published articles and book chapters in medical ethics and pediatric emergency medicine. Many of his publications attempt to distill complex ethical issues into a clinically useful approach.

“It’s a wonderful and unexpected honor, especially since I got to know Bill Bartholome shortly before his death and have always considered him to be a wonderful role model.”

— Dr. Doug Diekema

To read more, see AAP News 2014; 35:38.

About Dr. William G. Bartholome

William G. Bartholome, MD, was a noted advocate for children’s rights. He was a leader in establishing ethical guidelines that respect and protect children. He was one of the founding members of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Bioethics. Dr. Bartholome was a professor of pediatrics and ethicist at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) who died in 1999.