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Our Next Pandemic Ethics Challenge? Allocating “Normal” Health Care Services

Abstract: The pandemic creates unprecedented challenges to society and to health care systems around the world. Like all crises, these provide a unique opportunity to rethink the fundamental limiting assumptions and institutional inertia of our established systems. These inertial assumptions have obscured deeply rooted problems in health care and deflected attempts to address them. As hospitals begin to welcome all patients back, they should resist the temptation to go back to business as usual. Instead, they should retain the more deliberative, explicit, and transparent ways of thinking that have informed the development of crisis standards of care. The key lesson to be learned from those exercises in rational deliberation is that justice must be the ethical foundation of all standards of care. Justice demands that hospitals take a safety-net approach to providing services that prioritizes the most vulnerable segments of society, continue to expand telemedicine in ways that improve access without exacerbating disparities, invest in community-based care, and fully staff hospitals and clinics on nights and weekends.

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The Hastings Center has never shied away from the toughest ethical challenges faced by society.

LET US SHARE OUR EXPERIENCES WITH YOU!

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