Ethical Issues in Pandemic Influenza Preparedness
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OTHER INFORMATION FROM THE VHA PANDEMIC INFLUENZA ETHICS INITIATIVE -
A 4 page summary of ethical challenges and principles for ethical decision making related to a severe pandemic influenza.
To raise awareness and understanding about allocation of scarce resources and other difficult clinical and ethical decisions that will need to be made in a severe pandemic, the National Center for Ethics in Health Care and VA's Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards have prepared material to support staff discussion forums on ethics issues in pandemic flu preparedness.
The packet contains information for forum planners and participants:
In a severe pandemic flu VHA, like other health care organizations, will face a surge in demand to provide care for large numbers of very sick people with high rates of complications and need for supportive care -- in the context of a highly transmissible disease. The likely demand for resources in excess of those ordinarily used on a daily basis -- i.e., the demand on a health care facility's surge capacity -- means health care standards may need to be modified to respond to the public health threat and the imbalance between care that is needed and the resources available. Tough decisions may need to be made about reporting for duty, mandatory vaccination of health care workers, quarantine, diminished patient privacy, and triage and rationing care.
Through staff discussion forums VA health care providers can share information and concerns, build mutual understanding about the difficult ethical decisions they may have to make, and better prepare to respond to the ethical and professional challenges of a pandemic.