Clinical Ethics 17 (1):1-4 (2022)

Caring for hospitalized patients with COVID-19 raises ethical dilemmas in which clinicians must weigh the unknown value of an intervention against the unknown risk of viral transmission. Current guidelines for delivering high-value care in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic do not directly address ethical dilemmas that arise from the unique concerns of individual patients. We propose an “ethical pause” in which clinicians address ethical dilemmas by taking time to ask three questions that invoke the major bioethical principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and distributive justice: will this intervention help my patient? Could this intervention harm my patient? Could this intervention harm or help others? Using two exemplar cases, we demonstrate how the process of deliberately asking and answering structured ethical questions is a mindful problem-solving strategy that facilitates delivery of high-value care.
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DOI 10.1177/14777509211011434
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