Disaster Ethics and Healthcare Personnel: A Model Case Study to Facilitate the Decision Making Process
The impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast signified the arrival of the most catastrophic natural disaster in United States history. Despite years of dire warnings, the absence of hurricane evacuation policies and disaster contingency plans highlighted not only staggering ineptitudes at all levels of government but at all levels of healthcare organization as well. Thousands of healthcare personnel and, in some instances, their families were stranded in New Orleans hospitals awaiting evacuation in rapidly deteriorating conditions. Many of these healthcare workers are not expected to return to New Orleans. Some of these decisions are infrastructure driven however, many are due to the psychological traumas experienced as a result of the ethically perpetuated conflicts they were, in some instances, forced to contend with. Familiarity with and utilization of a framework for ethical decision-making may facilitate healthcare professionals in maneuvering through disaster-instigated ethical dilemmas.