The public health ethics framework and implications for COVID-19
The current COVID-19 pandemic may require a shift in our ethical thinking – away from the widely endorsed framework of patientcentred care towards “public health ethics”. At its core, public health ethics works towards the welfare of a majority in society, and as such, it is not usually applied to individual patients, but rather to a collective (for instance, society as a whole). This may call on us to redirect our efforts away from tirelessly promoting the autonomy of individual patients, towards the welfare of patients as a collective. During COVID-19, this confers a duty not only to existing patients under our care, but also to patients who may present with COVID-19.
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