Rewarding through prioritization: The limits of reciprocal obligation in allocating scarce medical resources in the COVID-19 crisis

By Thibaud Haaser In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems are under severe strain. Some countries are currently experiencing, or may experience within a few weeks, shortages of medical resources (in particular intensive care beds and mechanical ventilation). In this context, the health community may have to make impossible choices regarding the allocation […]

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ICU triage: How many lives or whose lives?

By Angela Ballantyne Bioethicists around the world have been asked to advise on the goals and methods of triage protocols. Estimates suggest 5% of COVID19 cases will require ICU care. The key ethical tension is between utility and equity. There are other relevant principles of fair allocation such as reciprocity for frontline workers who have […]

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COVID-19: In focussing on intensive care we must not lose sight of the wider professional duty to care for all patients.

By Anne Slowther and Sarah Mitchell As the number of cases and number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to rise exponentially much of the health care response, and subsequent bioethics commentary, has focussed on provision of intensive care for critically ill patients who require ventilation. This is understandable given the mismatch between the number of people […]

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Your family or your job? Balancing the duty to treat with the duty to family in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

By Doug McConnell At an aged-care home in Australia, most of the social care workers abstained from work after a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility. They cited concern for their family members, some of whom were immunocompromised. Physicians and nurses in the UK have threatened to quit because a lack of adequate personal protective equipment […]

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Personal Protective Equipment for front-line health workers: an ethical imperative

By Elizabeth Fenton Covid-19 poses risks to health care workers that exceed those posed to members of the public. Repeated exposure to infected patients increases their risk of infection, and might also make their symptoms more severe if they become infected. Although reported numbers vary, in Italy approximately 9% of COVID-19 cases are health workers, […]

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Having a possible escape to end life at your own timing offers reassurance and changes the perspective on current and prospective suffering

By Martijn Hagens. In a recent blog, Ben Colburn discusses that ‘the option of assisted dying is good for you even if you don’t want to die. In the paper related to that blog, he argues that “if someone knows they have a (potentially) acceptable escape, it changes the character of the choice set as a […]

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Why care about severity?

By Mathias Barra, Mari Broqvist, Erik Gustavsson, Martin Henriksson, Niklas Juth, Lars Sandman, and Carl Tollef Solberg In an ideal world, everyone one of us would receive medical treatments in a timely manner, in the best possible way. There would be an unlimited number of organs available for transplantation. There would be enough health workers […]

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