Patients Left Behind: Ethical Challenges in Caring for Indirect Victims of the Covid‐19 Pandemic

Hastings Center Report 50 (4):19-23 (2020)
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In response to the Covid‐19 pandemic, health care systems worldwide canceled or delayed elective surgeries, outpatient procedures, and clinic appointments. Although such measures may have been necessary to preserve medical resources and to prevent potential exposures early in the pandemic, moving forward, the indirect effects of such an extensive medical shutdown must not outweigh the direct harms of Covid‐19. In this essay, we argue for the reopening of evidence‐based health care with assurance provided to patients about the safety and necessity of high‐value vaccinations, screenings, therapeutics, and procedures. To ensure that virtually all non‐Covid‐related services do not come to a halt again, health care systems and physician practices must preemptively increase their capacity, secure adequate personal protective equipment to safeguard health care personnel, and develop a measured approach to reclosing such routine health care, should it become necessary in the future.



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