Objective To create a process by which ethical issues related to disaster planning and preparedness are identified and discussed among a multidisciplinary group.
Method A collaboration between the Yale Center for Public Health Preparedness and the Yale Center for Bioethics was initiated in order to address the ethics of preparedness for disasters and other public health emergencies. Participants included faculty, Center staff, public health practitioners, ethicists, community members, students.
Results The forum resulted in the following: (1) an 18-month long case-based series of discussions on various aspects of preparedness planning under the topics of constraints on liberty, communications, resource allocation, work force issues, vulnerable population, ecological/environmental issues; (2) a year long series of discussions focused on ethical issues and community surge; and (3) a project on alternate standards of care in disaster situations in collaboration with the state department of public health. The case-based series is currently being developed into a curriculum for study ethical aspects of preparedness. The community surge discussions provided insight that was used in the development of altered standards of care policy for the state. The altered standards of care project is being discussed in communities around the state in order to solicit input from community members before the document is finalised.
Conclusion The creation of a multidisciplinary forum for discussion of the ethics of public health preparedness has informed the development of policy that will impact communities, and is leading to the development of a curriculum in the ethics of preparedness.
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