When an infectious pandemic occurs in the United States, emergency care providers (ECPs) will be on the frontlines caring for infected, potentially infected, and non-infected patients. Logistically, the current emergency care system is not ready for a pandemic, but are the providers ethically ready? Some of the most difficult and challenging issues that will be raised during a pandemic will be ethical in nature. An ECP likely will be confronted with ethical values and value conflicts underlying restriction of liberty, duty to care, and resource allocation.
This report summarizes the ethical concerns and challenges that ECPs face during an infectious pandemic, and raises ethical questions that may arise related to the role of an ECP as a healthcare provider and stakeholder.