Assessing Competencies for Public Health Emergency Legal Preparedness

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 36 (s1):28-35 (2008)
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Among the many components of legal preparedness for public health emergencies is the assurance that the public health workforce and its private sector partners are competent to use the law to facilitate the performance of essential public health services and functions. This is a significant challenge. Multiple categories of emergencies, stemming from natural disasters to emerging infectious diseases, confront public health practitioners. Interpreting, assessing, and applying legal principles during emergencies are complicated by the changing legal environment and differences in governmental organization of emergency management functions. While law and legal competencies are essential to routine public health practices, once government declares a state of public health emergency or disaster, the legal landscape changes. Typical legal responses to protect the public's health may no longer be the norm. Public health practitioners, legal counsel, health care partners, and others need to be able to assess changing laws and policies and apply them in real-time.



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