Four ethical values — maximizing benefits, treating equally, promoting and rewarding instrumental value, and giving priority to the worst off — yield six specific recommendations for allocating medical resources in the Covid-19 pandemic: maximize benefits; prioritize health workers; do not allocate on a first-come, first-served basis; be responsive to evidence; recognize research participation; and apply the same principles to all Covid-19 and non–Covid-19 patients.
Coronavirus disease 2019 can lead to respiratory failure. Some patients require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support. During the current pandemic, health care resources in some cities have been overwhelmed, and doctors have faced complex decisions about resource allocation. We present a case in which a pediatric hospital caring for both children and adults seeks to establish guidelines for the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation if there are not enough resources to treat every patient. Experts in critical care, end-of-life care, bioethics, and (...) health policy discuss if age should guide rationing decisions. (shrink)
In this survey study of 4735 US adults, respondents of all demographic and political affiliations agreed with prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine access for health care workers, adults of any age with serious comorbid conditions, frontline workers (eg, teachers and grocery workers), and Black, Hispanic, Native American, and other communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Older adult respondents were less likely than younger respondents to list healthy people older than 65 years as 1 of their top 4 priority groups. These (...) findings suggest that the US public agrees with the high-priority groups proposed by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine but appears to disagree with approaches advanced by others that prioritize older adults but not essential workers or disproportionately affected communities. (shrink)
Medical cannabis is widely available in the USA and legalisation is likely to expand. Despite the increased accessibility and use of medical cannabis, physicians have significant knowledge gaps regarding evidence of clinical benefits and potential harms. We argue that primary care providers have an ethical obligation to develop competency to provide cannabis to appropriate patients. Furthermore, specific ethical considerations should guide the recommendation of medical cannabis. In many cases, these ethical considerations are extensions of well-established principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence, (...) which indicate that providers should recommend cannabis only for conditions that have the strongest evidence base. Additionally, the contested status of cannabis in American culture raises specific issues related to shared decision-making and patient education, as well as continuing clinical education. (shrink)