Who Gets Scarce Medical Resources during a COVID-19 Pandemic? Let’s not beat about the Bush

Polychronis P. Voultsos


Except for such rare situations where it might be determined absence of physician’s imputability, physicians cannot ‘save the most lives while respecting the legal rights of the patient’ without violating the overarching principle ‘every human life has equal value’.  Arguing to the contrary is a conscious hypocritical attitude, or in other words, a fiction. Medical law and ethics long since carry with its various fictions. Furthermore, in a public health emergency such as the current COVID-19 crisis, medical law and ethics change and shift the focus from the patient-centered model towards the public health-centered model. Under these particular circumstances, this fiction becomes striking, and it can no longer be swept under the rug. As health emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime, the patient prioritization in circumstances of limited resources should be accepted. Medical law and ethics should back away from strict commitment to placing paramount emphasis on the value of human life. It is time for medical law and ethics to leave taboo-related hypocritical attitudes, and venture to make a historic compromise. To do so, three principles should be met: subsidiarity, proportionality, and consensus and social proof. (Afr J Reprod Health 2020 (Speciial Edition); 24[2]: 32-40).

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