Five Ethical Points Now That Ebola Has Entered The USA

01/10/2014

The first case of Ebola to occur on American soil has now occurred. The CDC announced a hospital in Dallas, Texas, has hospitalized a man who came there to visit his family.

Sadly, this news is going to create a lot of panic. For example, the Internet will likely soon be overflowing with nostrums, essential oils, tree bark, eye of toad and essence of newt promising to prevent or cure Ebola. The FDA and FTC should be gathering their lawyers right now to get this claptrap off the web.

There are some tough ethical questions that this case raises that do merit calm discussion. Here are five of them.

1. A case like this was bound to happen. A few more are likely given the ability to travel easily from nation to nation. There will be calls to restrict travel from West Africa but that is not useful or needed. In today’s world there are too many ways to get from there to here. What is needed is to seriously screen passengers getting on planes or boats to the USA for symptoms of Ebola.

2. Are hospitals prepared to deal with a small number of cases? Yes, planning has been quietly going on for some time now to identify and isolate cases. Local governments should reveal their work so the public understands that their local health care systems are ready for Ebola. There are however some unanswered questions about some plans. If only trained volunteers will be involved in care will there be enough in all parts of the country. Will experimental drugs be offered to patients? Will experimental drugs or vaccines be offered to care givers? What should someone do if they think they have Ebola—go to an E.R in a cab or what?

3. We need clarity of the rights of families to dictate disposal of bodies should there be a death. Handling the dead carefully is a must as we have learned from West Africa.

4. Cost issues should be addressed—who will pay for visitors coming here or any uninsured person who becomes infected?

5. Privacy is important but should we bend the rules in order to calm the American people who are worried if not panicked over Ebola? I think we should. More information is needed to do that then the CDC has given out so far.

Ebola is going to be with us for a while. Getting the word out on what is being done to handle it must be a public health priority.

 

fuente: http://www.forbes.com/sites/arthurcaplan/2014/09/30/five-ethical-points-now-that-ebola-has-entered-to-the-usa/