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Public Health Rep. 2009 Mar-Apr;124(2):295-303.

Resource allocation on the frontlines of public health preparedness and response: report of a summit on legal and ethical issues.

Author information

1
Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N. Wolfe St., Room E7035, Baltimore, MD 21208, USA. dbarnett@jhsph.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

In the face of all-hazards preparedness challenges, local and state health department personnel have to date lacked a discrete set of legally and ethically informed public health principles to guide the distribution of scarce resources in crisis settings. To help address this gap, we convened a Summit of academic and practice experts to develop a set of principles for legally and ethically sound public health resource triage decision-making in emergencies.

METHODS:

The invitation-only Summit, held in Washington, D.C., on June 29, 2006, assembled 20 experts from a combination of academic institutions and nonacademic leadership, policy, and practice settings. The Summit featured a tabletop exercise designed to highlight resource scarcity challenges in a public health infectious disease emergency. This exercise served as a springboard for Summit participants' subsequent identification of 10 public health emergency resource allocation principles through an iterative process.

RESULTS:

The final product of the Summit was a set of 10 principles to guide allocation decisions involving scarce resources in public health emergencies. The principles are grouped into three categories: obligations to community; balancing personal autonomy and community well-being/benefit; and good preparedness practice.

CONCLUSIONS:

The 10 Summit-derived principles represent an attempt to link law, ethics, and real-world public health emergency resource allocation practices, and can serve as a useful starting framework to guide further systematic approaches and future research on addressing public health resource scarcity in an all-hazards context.

PMID:
19320372
PMCID:
PMC2646457
DOI:
10.1177/003335490912400218
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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