Should Health Care Providers Get Treatment Priority in an Influenza Pandemic?

8 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2010  

Mark A. Rothstein

University of Louisville - Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law; University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Date Written: June 25, 2010

Abstract

The 2009 pandemic of influenza A (H1N1) was relatively mild, but a subsequent outbreak of pandemic influenza could be much worse. According to projections from the Department of Health and Human Services, the potential health consequences of a severe (1918-like) influenza pandemic in the United States could be literally overwhelming: up to 1.9 million deaths; 90 million people sick; 45 million people needing outpatient care; 9.9 million people hospitalized, of whom 1.485 million would need treatment in an intensive care unit (ICU); and 742,500 patients needing mechanical ventilators. Even a less cataclysmic, “moderate” pandemic (like 1958 or 1968) would result in 209,000 deaths; 90 million people sick; 45 million people needing outpatient care; 865,000 people hospitalized, of whom 128,750 would need treatment in an ICU; and 64,875 patients needing mechanical ventilators.

Keywords: bioethics, public health, pandemics, medical ethics, triage, distributive justice, emergency preparedness, medical utility

JEL Classification: K32, K31

Suggested Citation

Rothstein, Mark A., Should Health Care Providers Get Treatment Priority in an Influenza Pandemic? (June 25, 2010). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1632627

Mark A. Rothstein (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Institute for Bioethics, Health Policy, and Law ( email )

Louisville, KY 40202
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.louisville.edu/bioethics

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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