Visitor restrictions in hospitals during infectious disease outbreaks: An ethical approach to policy development and requests for exemptions

Bioethics 37 (7):715-724 (2023)
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In this paper, we explore the ethics of restricting visitation to hospitals during an infectious disease outbreak. We aim to answer three questions: What are the features of an ethically justified hospital visitor restriction policy? Should policies include scope for case‐by‐case exemptions? How should decisions about exemptions be made? Based on a critical interpretive review of the existing ethical literature on visitor restrictions, we argue that an ethically justified hospital visitor restriction policy has the following features: proportionality, comprehensiveness, harm mitigation, exemptions for specific patient populations, visitation decisions made separately from a patient's treating clinicians, transparency, and consistency in application. We also argue that an ethical policy ought to include scope for case‐by‐case exemptions for individual patients. We propose a process for ethical decision‐making that provides a shared language and structure to decrease the risks and burdens of decision‐making when clinicians or managers are considering requests for exemptions.



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Ethics and infectious disease.Michael J. Selgelid - 2005 - Bioethics 19 (3):272–289.


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