Swine Flu, Doctors and Pandemics: Is There a Duty to Treat During a Pandemic?
Journal of law and medicine 2010 May; 17(5): 736-47
The swine influenza (H1N1) outbreak in 2009 highlighted the ethical and legal pressures facing general practitioners and health workers in emergency departments in determining the nature and limits of their obligations to their patients and the public. Health workers require guidance on the multiple, overlapping, and at times conflicting legal and ethical duties owed to patients and prospective patients, employers and fellow health workers, and their families. Existing sources of advice on these issues in Australia, by way of statements of medical ethics and other sources of advice, are shown to be in need of further amplification if health workers are to be provided with the certainty and guidance required. Given the complexity of the issues, Australia would therefore benefit from more extensive consultation with the variety of stakeholders involved in these questions if pandemic plans are to smoothly deal with future crises in an ethically and legally sound manner.
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