Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Resource problems in Haiti required ethical decision-making, doctor/disaster expert says

Date:
March 11, 2010
Source:
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Summary:
In an essay published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a Johns Hopkins emergency physician outlines how he and other physicians who worked in Haiti after the earthquake had to make emotionally difficult ethical decisions daily in the face of a crushing wave of patients and inadequate medical resources.

In an essay published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a Johns Hopkins emergency physician outlines how he and other physicians who worked in Haiti after the earthquake had to make emotionally difficult ethical decisions daily in the face of a crushing wave of patients and inadequate medical resources.

Thomas D. Kirsch, M.D., M.P.H., writes in the essay that the team of Johns Hopkins physicians that he lead in Haiti for two weeks soon after the earthquake had to quickly adjust standards of care that are common in the United States due to the sheer volume of patients, the wide range of injuries and complaints, and inadequate medical resources that had to be allocated to those most likely to benefit from them.

Kirsch and his six-member team worked at University Hospital in Port-au-Prince, where they saw on average 350 to 450 patients per day. In the JAMA essay, Kirsch dubs this daily march of the suffering "The Line."

This tide of battered humanity, which began forming some days at 5:30 a.m., Kirsch writes, was "unrelenting in numbers, in illness, in injury, and in heartbreak."

"The Line is a force that never stops its pressure. It is the pressure of the massive imbalance of needs and resources," writes Kirsch and his co-author and wife Margaret Moon, M.D., M.P.H.

As a result of these problems, the authors note, "The standards have to change … The standards get lower, must be lower than anything these clinicians have ever imagined before. We worry about the slippery slope toward inhumane medicine."

The intense experience in Haiti, Kirsch writes, raises many troubling and difficult ethical and moral questions, none of which have easy answers. Kirsch, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, is now working with the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, to host a symposium this fall to explore the ethics of triage and resource-allocation during mass disasters.

The Berman Institute is an independent, interdisciplinary center dedicated to the study of complex moral and medical issues.

Kirsch, a trained medical disaster expert who assisted with medical responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, was among the first medical staff sent to Haiti by Johns Hopkins Medicine. He deployed to the country soon after the massive January 12 earthquake, which killed an estimated 230,000 people, as part of the Johns Hopkins Go Team. The multidisciplinary group of approximately of 185 is trained to respond to natural and manmade catastrophes. Moon, a Johns Hopkins pediatrician, did not deploy to Haiti.

Kirsch has been tapped by the nonprofit Earthquake Engineering Research Institute to help assess earthquake building damage in Chile. Kirsch will be looking into how building damage contributed to injuries, deaths and hospital closings in the February 27 earthquake.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Thomas D. Kirsch; Margaret R. Moon. The Line. JAMA, 2010; 303 (10): 921-922 [link]

Cite This Page:

Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Resource problems in Haiti required ethical decision-making, doctor/disaster expert says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311175133.htm>.
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. (2010, March 11). Resource problems in Haiti required ethical decision-making, doctor/disaster expert says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311175133.htm
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. "Resource problems in Haiti required ethical decision-making, doctor/disaster expert says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100311175133.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Urgent-Care Clinics Ill-Equipped to Treat Ebola

Urgent-Care Clinics Ill-Equipped to Treat Ebola

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Urgent-care clinics popping up across the US are not equipped to treat a serious illness like Ebola and have been told to immediately call a hospital and public health officials if they suspect a patient may be infected. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins