Ethical Guidelines During Public Health Emergencies Available For Public Comment

Contact: Angela Minicuci (517) 241-2112

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 3, 2012

LANSING - The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) in collaboration with Wayne State University Law School, and a multi-disciplinary ethics committee, has launched a new website, www.mimedicalethics.org, intended for public feedback on a set of proposed ethical guidelines. The guidelines will assist the healthcare system and public health officials in making tough decisions when allocating scarce medical resources during a public health emergency.

"We invite and encourage the public to review the guidelines and provide their feedback through the new website," said Olga Dazzo, Director of the MDCH. "One of the goals of this project is to promote trust, transparency, and understanding among Michigan residents. During a large-scale emergency medical supplies and resources may become scarce. Having a system in place for access to vital resources will assure that allocation occurs in a fair and ethical way that will be consistent across the healthcare system."

The website, www.mimedicalethics.org, contains links to the ethical guidelines as well as other resource documents for hospitals, emergency medical service providers, and legal counsel on issues of scare resource allocation during public health emergencies. Members of the general public as well as healthcare and public health system employees are encouraged to learn more and provide comments at the website.

The guidelines will be revised and finalized once public feedback has been incorporated. The guidelines were developed over the last three years by a multi-disciplinary ethics committee. Members include Michigan-based subject matter and ethics experts from academia, healthcare and public health backgrounds. The project is led by Wayne State University Law School with support from the MDCH.

The lead on the project, Professor Lance Gable, a public health law attorney and assistant professor of law at Wayne State University states that, "The purpose of the guidelines is to minimize the harm caused by public health emergencies, while also allowing fair processes to protect all individuals. We hope to provide guidance to health care providers and other decision-makers in making ethical decisions about access to scarce medical resources in the most effective way possible."

For more information about the project or to review and provide feedback on the ethical guidelines, visit www.mimedicalethics.org.

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