Ethics in Public Health Emergencies

Ethics in Public Health Emergencies

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Emergency situations create the need to consider response measures in light of ethics. Emergencies create limited resources needing efficient allocation and the need to evenly distribute burden and benefit. Due to the limited number of resources available in an emergency response, not all individuals will be able to receive the same treatment. This limitation poses many ethical considerations to be made including who and when to evacuate, and measures that can be made in order to minimize burden and maximize benefit. These tough decisions should be discussed before an emergency and developed into emergency operation planning.

CEUs: 1 contact hour (0.1 CEUs) awarded upon successful completion


By the end of the Ethics in Public Health Emergencies course, the learner will be able to:

  • Describe the limitation of resources and the need to allocate resources in a public health emergency.
  • Discuss the rationale for the restriction of individual rights in a public health emergency.
  • Distinguish specific restriction measures and how these are ordered at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Describe how ethical considerations impact evacuation and treatment in an emergency.
  • State the goals of providers in a public health emergency and how this may alter standards of care.


Capability 3: Emergency Operations Coordination


1. Model Leadership

1.1 Solve problems under emergency conditions

1.6 Act within the scope of one’s legal authority

2. Communicate and Manage Information

2.1 Manage information related to an emergency

3.  Plan for and Improve Practice

3.3 Participate in improving the organization’s capacities

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