Ethics Response to Infectious Outbreaks and/or Mass Casualty Events
In a severe pandemic flu, VHA, like other health care organizations, will face a surge in demand for care to large numbers of very sick people in the context of a highly transmissible disease. The demand for resources is likely to exceed what is available under ordinary circumstances and restrictions may be necessary to prevent the spread of disease. As a result, health care standards may need to be modified to respond to the public health threat and to the imbalance between the care that is needed and the resources that are available. Tough decisions may need to be made about reporting for duty, vaccination of health care workers, quarantine, diminished patient privacy, and scarce resource allocation.
NCEHC collaborated with the VHA Office of Public Health and others to develop resources and guidance on the duty of VHA employees to provide care for patients, even at some personal risk to themselves.
NCEHC led a workgroup charged with developing an ethical framework as a basis for consistent, fair, and transparent prioritization of HCV treatment based on clinical need.