The St. Francis International Center for Healthcare Ethics

Navigating through today’s ethical challenges

The St. Francis International Center for Healthcare Ethics is a component of the St. Francis Healthcare System, providing leadership in the area of healthcare and organizational ethics in Hawaii and the Pan Pacific region.   As a professional organization funded through conferences, training sessions and various donations and grants, the Ethics Center serves as a resource for caregivers and scholars.

The Ethics Center offers expertise and services in healthcare ethics consultations, education, research, and policy development. It provides a forum for scholarly dialogue and reflection of healthcare ethics and related issues for the Catholic community and community at large.

The Ethics Center interacts actively with local, national and international centers of bioethics. Its library of texts, journals as well as video and audio tapes provides basic information for the study of contemporary and multi-cultural ethical issues.

Ethics Fellows

The Ethics Center appoints the Fellows by invitation, and they serve for two years, collaborating with visiting scholars, presenting community educational sessions, conducting research for publication, and supervising trainees in Ethics Center activities. They meet monthly to review and analyze the latest literature in healthcare ethics and related issues. Scholarly debate over controversial issues highlights their lively discussions.

Consultation Services

The Ethics Center offers advice and assistance on difficult cases encountered by hospital ethics committees regarding patient care and organizational ethics. Currently, the Ethics Center provides ethics consultation services to the St. Francis Community Health Services and Liberty Dialysis-Hawaii.

Ethics Seminars

The Ethics Center provides seminars for physicians, nurses, social workers and other healthcare workers in the community. These one-hour programs are designed to provoke dialog among the attendees.

International Bioethics Conference

This one day biennial conference addresses current and sometimes controversial topics in bioethics presented by local and internationally renowned faculty. Participants come from Hawaii, across the United States, and many international countries. The conference offers a unique forum for attendees to engage in candid discussions with experts in the field of ethics. They also have an opportunity to network with other individuals wishing to further their understanding of healthcare and organizational ethics.

Sabbatical Program

This program is for scholars who wish to come to the Ethics Center, usually for one to six months, to teach, write and participate in research. Scholars are responsible for their own expenses, and the Ethics Center provides computer, library, and clerical support.

Ethics Center staff

S. Y. Tan, MD, JD, Director
2230 Liliha Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 547-6050

S.Y. Tan, MD, JD 

Dr. S.Y. Tan studied medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and Yale University.  He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Endocrinology.  He is also a licensed attorney, having graduated from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, where he served on Law Review.

Dr. Tan is an Emeritus Professor of Medicine and former adjunct Professor of Law.  He is the Director of The St. Francis International Center for Healthcare Ethics and Director of Medical Education at St. Francis Healthcare System.

In July 2012, Dr. Tan published “Medical Negligence” which documents Singaporean cases studies on topics relating to professional and sexual misconduct.  He has also written “Medical Malpractice:  Understanding the Law, Managing the Risk,” that covers the law of medical malpractice and how to prevent a malpractice lawsuit.  It is utilized as a resource for medical students and residents as well as nursing graduates.  Dr. Tan edited “End-of-Life Care” which is a simple, yet comprehensive guide designed for healthcare providers, patients, and family members dealing with end-of-life ethical issues.  He also contributes written articles monthly to Internal Medicine News.  In addition, he has published over 100 articles and lectures widely on medical, medico-legal and bioethics topics.


“Medical Malpractice: Understanding the law, Managing the Risk” by S.Y. Tan, MD, JD covers the law of medical malpractice and how to prevent a malpractice lawsuit. Its primary goal is to provide a clear and simple explanation of American law of medical malpractice, informed consent, and risk management. The book is divided into five sections including a quick review of key topics and glossary of legal terms. Limited copies are available for $25 each.

“End of Life Care” is a simple, yet comprehensive guide designed for healthcare providers, patients, and family members dealing with end-of-life ethical issues. The book includes the relevant aspects of the Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives and features a useful and pertinent question and answer section. It is a collaborative effort of Ethics Committee members, each contributing a chapter and edited by S.Y. Tan, MD, JD. Copies are available for $10 each.

Inquiries/General Information contact

Katherine Korenaga, Ethics & Education Coordinator
2230 Liliha Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
Telephone: (808) 547-8126
Fax (808) 547-6049