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Rev Med Chil. 2012 Jan;140(1):108-12. doi: /S0034-98872012000100016. Epub 2012 Apr 12.

[Bioethics in catastrophe situations such as earthquakes].

[Article in Spanish]

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Centro de Bioética, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


A catastrophe of the magnitude of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Chile not long ago, forces us to raise some questions that we will try to answer from a philosophical, ethical and responsibility viewpoints. An analysis of the basic principles of bioethics is also justified. A natural catastrophe is not, by itself, moral or immoral, fair or unfair. However, its consequences could certainly be regarded as such, depending on whether they could have been prevented or mitigated. We will identify those individuals, who have the ethical responsibility to attend the victims and the ethical principles that must guide the tasks of healthcare and psychological support teams. The minimal indispensable actions to obtain an adequate social and legal protection of vulnerable people, must be defined according to international guidelines. These reflections are intended to improve the responsibility of the State and all the community, to efficiently prevent and repair the material and psychological consequences of such a catastrophe.

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