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Disability Rights as a Necessary Framework for Crisis Standards of Care and the Future of Health Care

Abstract: In this essay, we suggest practical ways to shift the framing of crisis standards of care toward disability justice. We elaborate on the vision statement provided in the 2010 Institute of Medicine (National Academy of Medicine) “Summary of Guidance for Establishing Crisis Standards of Care for Use in Disaster Situations,” which emphasizes fairness; equitable processes; community and provider engagement, education, and communication; and the rule of law. We argue that interpreting these elements through disability justice entails a commitment to both distributive and recognitive justice. The disability rights movement’s demand “Nothing about us, without us” requires substantive inclusion of disabled people in decision-making related to their interests, including in crisis planning before, during, and after a pandemic like Covid-19.

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