The members of ethics committees belong to different professional groups. In each committee there are physicians, lawyers, people from different fields of ethics, such as theology, philiosophy or medical ethics. Furthermore, there are so-called medical laymen in ethics committees as well as people from other medical fields, such as nurses, scientists of biometry, pharmacology or epidemiology.
Patient representatives are now an integral part of most medical ethics committees in Germany. One of their main tasks is to take a close look at the information documents and the consent forms for study participation. They check whether the study measures and the benefits and risks of study participation are adequately described. Furthermore, they look at whether the texts are formulated in a way that is understandable for patients and laypersons.
The vast majority of members of an ethics committee work on a voluntary basis, i.e. they do not receive a fee for their work on the committee. They are voluntarily involved in the committee and are bound solely by their conscience in the decision-making process.