Coronavirus Update: Ethics Considerations, Guidance and Resources.
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The COVID-19 pandemic is an evolving public health emergency. Government agencies, health care professionals and the public at large are all working tirelessly to create plans and implement strategies to reduce the spread of infection, to optimize existing health care resources and to prepare for the allocation of scarce resources should health care demand exceed health care system availability.
Without effective masking, testing, tracing, and isolation, the country’s attempts to reopen will be disrupted. Stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus—and avoiding a general lockdown—depends on these important measures.
When public health emergencies arise, there is the potential for health care resources to become constrained. If that happens, the guiding ethical principles that underpin health care delivery and clinical care are applied differently in order to maximize lives saved and avoid as many preventable deaths as possible. This means that while health care providers will always consider the preferences of individual patients—when community need becomes the priority, ethical obligations shift and it may not be possible to accommodate all individual patient wishes. Because this represents a shift from the normal standard of care, policies for allocating scarce resources during a public health crisis should be grounded in ethical obligations that include: duty to care, duty to steward resources fairly, distributive and procedural justice, and transparency.
(Source: 2007 CDC guidelines)
As Vermonters work together with the rest of the nation and globe to navigate this public health crisis, VEN will continue to provide and share resources to help with decision-making, policy development, communication, and supporting one another.