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Pandemic Influenza and Ethics

Pandemic Influenza and Ethics

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Pandemic Influenza and Ethics

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  1. Pandemic Influenza and Ethics Healthy Carolinians Annual Conference 11 October 2007 Mark Holmes, PhD Vice President NC Institute of Medicine NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  2. Acknowledgements • Task Force funded by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through grant to NC Division of Public Health. The contents of this presentation are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC. • Support for public presentations provided to the NC IOM by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  3. Overview • Background on Pandemic Influenza (“PanFlu”) • Task Force Composition and Process • Task Force Findings and Recommendations • Conclusions NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  4. Overview • Background on Pandemic Influenza (“PanFlu”) • Task Force Composition and Process • Task Force Findings and Recommendations • Conclusions NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  5. Three types of influenza • Seasonal influenza: annual event (mostly during winter), about 1100 deaths per year in North Carolina, same general type of virus, vaccine available • Pandemic influenza: rare event (occurring year round), higher death rate, new virus, vaccine may not be available • Avian influenza: influenza occurring in birds, virus may mutate to become human influenza NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  6. Pandemic Influenza • The world averages about three pandemic (worldwide epidemic) influenzas per century • 1918-1919 (“Spanish Flu”) • 1957-1958 (“Asian Flu”) • 1968-1969 (“Hong Kong Flu”) • In some sense, we are “overdue” for the next one • Recent cases of H5N1 have led many experts (including the CDC) to say it is not a case of if but when the next pandemic will occur. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  7. Likely healthcare impact of PanFlu • A pandemic would involve multiple “waves” each lasting several weeks • Predictions and simulations involve various assumptions regarding proportion of population infected and virulence of virus • Estimated effect on North Carolina: 35,000 – 290,000 hospitalizations per wave (compared with 6,000 for seasonal flu) NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  8. Likely societal impact of PanFlu • Best estimate during a pandemic influenza is a 40% employee absentee rate (due to either employees being sick or caring for loved ones) • North Carolina has experience recovering from natural disasters, but the PanFlu experience will be different and will require a shift in thinking NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  9. Natural disaster vs. PanFlu • Natural disaster: • Little effect on availability of workers • Can “borrow” resources from unaffected areas (e.g., electricity crews) NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  10. Natural disaster vs. PanFlu • Challenges: • Negotiating physical environment to get employees into work • Capital may be unavailable (e.g., no utilities) • Closed schools may keep some employees home to care for children • Common solutions: • Create barracks-type quartering for employees and day care capability for children of employees NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  11. Natural disaster vs. PanFlu • Pandemic Influenza • Great effect on availability of employees • No ability to obtain resources from other areas (all areas are affected) http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/h41000/h41871.jpg NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  12. Natural disaster vs. PanFlu • Challenges: • Maintaining productivity with 40% employee absentee rate • Closed schools may keep some employees home to care for children • Note that a barracks-type solution is a mass gathering– exactly what should be avoided to limit infection! • Lesson: may need to think “upside-down” about common approaches to crises NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  13. Ethics and PanFlu Planning • There will not be time to consider these issues during a pandemic, so must consider them prior to event onset • Transparent process • Public input is critical NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  14. Overview • Background on Pandemic Influenza • Task Force Composition and Process • Task Force Findings and Recommendations • Conclusions NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  15. NC IOM/DPH Task Force on Ethics and Pandemic Influenza Planning • In late 2005, DPH asked NC IOM to convene a Task Force on Ethics and Pandemic Influenza Planning to help inform the Division on ethical considerations during a pandemic • Funded by NC Division of Public Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) • First such effort in the nation NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  16. Task Force Composition • Co-chairs • Leah Devlin, DDS, MPH (State Health Director) • Rosemarie Tong, PhD (Professor of Ethics, UNC-Charlotte) • Honorary: NC DHHS Secretary Carmen Hooker Odom • 34 other Task Force members • Public health and other government agencies, healthcare providers, business and industry, faith community, advocacy organizations, community leaders, ethicists, and representatives of underserved communities NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  17. Task Force Charge • Increase awareness and understanding of PanFlu’s impact on NC, especially the public health response • Identify and explore ethical issues • Develop ethical template to guide leaders • Involve citizens in exploring ethical issues • Develop recommendations of next steps NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  18. Task Force Process • Five Task Force meetings to learn more about key issues, build ethical framework, and develop, consider, and refine recommendations • Four public meetings on Task Force recommendations • Charlotte, Greenville, Asheville, Raleigh • Collaborators: Old North State Medical Society, El Pueblo, PHRST Team • Feedback from public meetings presented to Task Force at sixth meeting, refined recommendations before approving NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  19. Overview • Background on Pandemic Influenza • Task Force Composition and Process • Task Force Findings and Recommendations • Conclusions NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  20. Findings and Recommendations • Culmination of Task Force work was the final report Stockpiling Solutions: North Carolina’s Ethical Guidelines for an Influenza Pandemic • Electronic version available at http://www.nciom.org. Click on Task Forces > Ethics and Pandemic Influenza Planning NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  21. Other Resources Issue Brief http://www.nciom.org Article (Jan/Feb 2007 NC Med J) http://www.ncmedicaljournal.com NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  22. Previous Work • Seminal work on ethical guidelines during a public health emergency • Informed by SARS epidemic in Toronto • Task Force heard from an author of report http://www.utoronto.ca/jcb/home/documents/pandemic.pdf NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  23. Ethical Template / Framework In order to guide the recommendations, Task Force adopted ethical principles to form an ethical blueprint: Accountability, Cooperation and Collaboration, Duty to Work, Equity, Honesty and Truth-telling, Inclusiveness, Proportionality, Protecting individual rights and privacy rights, Protecting the public, Reasonableness, Reciprocity, Responsiveness, Stewardship, Timeliness, Transparency, Trust NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  24. Four (three?) key issues • Task Force identified four key issues • Responsibilities of healthcare workers to work • Responsibilities of critical workers to work • Rights of individuals versus protection of the public • Prioritization and utilization of limited resources • First two can be conceptualized as one issue but are treated separately NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  25. 1. Responsibility of healthcare workers to work • During a pandemic, healthcare organizations will be facing unprecedented demand and likely operating at 60% staffing levels • Meeting the needs of the population will be difficult; “voluntary” absenteeism will make this situation even worse • What is the duty of healthcare workers to work during a pandemic influenza? NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  26. “Healthcare worker” defined • “Healthcare workers” include • Licensed healthcare professionals • Unlicensed healthcare professionals • Healthcare workers not providing direct patient care (e.g., environmental services) NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  27. Duty to work The duty to work stems from three obligations: • Professional obligation: as a member of a health profession, the provider agrees to a duty to work • Employment obligation: contractual obligations require the worker to support the work of the organization • Human obligation: the welfare of everyone is enhanced when all of society’s members recognize their moral responsibility to assist each other in times of need NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  28. Professional Obligation Despite risks to themselves, licensed and nonlicensed healthcare professionals have an ethical obligation to provide care because: • Ability to provide care is greater than that of the public • Social contract resulting from the privilege of self-regulation and self-licensure • Free choice of a profession or job devoted to caring for the ill NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  29. Reciprocal Obligations Government and healthcare organizations have reciprocal duties: • Ensure that the work asked of healthcare personnel does not exceed their professional capabilities, and that the tasks assigned are targeted to addressing the existing emergency. May involve “Just in Time” training. • Ensure that healthcare workers are suitably protected, compensated, and supported. • Provide healthcare personnel and organizations with qualified immunity from liability from malpractice or other suits if they act in good faith to provide needed health services during the pandemic. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  30. Recommendation 2.1 • All healthcare personnel in healthcare settings have an ethical responsibility to perform their regular employment duties during an influenza pandemic and to assume new responsibilities for which they are trained, as long as actions by the healthcare personnel will not lead to greater harm than the failure to act. (b) Government and healthcare organizations have a reciprocal responsibility to ensure that healthcare personnel are protected and supported to the extent possible. Frontline healthcare workers and others at increased risk of infection should have priority in receiving available personal protective equipment, vaccinations, antiviral drugs, and other nonmedical control measures. All critical healthcare personnel should receive behavioral health services and other goods or services needed to enable them to work. In addition, organizations have a responsibility to ensure that workers are appropriately trained to fulfill the tasks assigned to them during a crisis. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  31. The SARS experience A librarian is suing Mount Sinai Hospital [Toronto] for $2.1 million, claiming she was forced to quit her job when she refused to continue screening staff and visitors for SARS symptoms.Kellee Kaulback, who worked in the hospital's library for two years, said she was made to work as a SARS screener during the outbreak but received no training in how to fit her mask or properly take temperatures.…Kaulback learned during her first shift that her mask had been fitted improperly, since she hadn't pinched the metal bar above her nose, nor tightened the elastic bands. While working her next shift, she was told that the way she and other screeners were opening boxes of probes - the plastic piece that fits over the thermometer and allows it to be reused - was actually contaminating them…. Palmer K. “Librarian sues over SARS duty”, The Toronto Star, July 10, 2003 Thursday, Ontario Edition, NEWS; Pg. B01. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  32. Recommendation 2.2 Healthcare organizations should design business continuity plans to prepare for events such as a pandemic. Plans should identify the critical functions that must be continued and those positions that are critical to the continued operation of the healthcare organization. Workers who would be required to work should be made aware of the expectation to work during events such as a pandemic flu upon hiring or upon the adoption of the plan. The healthcare organization should specify the anticipated supports that will be available to the critical healthcare personnel to enable them to work, as well as the sanctions if critical healthcare personnel fail to show up for work when otherwise required to do so. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  33. Recommendation 2.3 In order to ask healthcare providers and other healthcare personnel to assume greater risk and responsibilities, the North Carolina General Assembly should: (a) Modify existing laws to clarify that in the case of a declared disaster under the North Carolina Emergency Management Act (NCGS Ch. 166A, Art. 1): (i) The standard of care to be applied in any medical negligence action arising out of healthcare provided during an influenza pandemic is the standard of practice among members of the same healthcare profession with similar training and experience, practicing under the same circumstances including the unique circumstances presented by an influenza pandemic, and situated in the same or similar communities at the time the healthcare is rendered. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  34. Recommendation 2.3, cont. (ii) Healthcare personnel and healthcare organizations have qualified immunity from liability. Individuals and organizations should not be liable for damages due to injury or death, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the harm was caused by gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing. (iii) Healthcare personnel and healthcare organizations will be indemnified for the costs of defending the lawsuit, including attorneys’ fees, unless the injury or death is found to be a result of gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing. (b) Modify the workers’ compensation laws to provide benefits to individuals who are injured because they were required to obtain an influenza vaccination or other prophylaxis as part of their job responsibilities. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  35. Recommendation 2.4 The North Carolina Healthcare Licensure Boards should develop formal guidelines on the duty to provide care during emergencies, including outbreaks of infectious diseases. The guidelines should specify healthcare professionals’ ethical duties, as well as the limits of such obligations. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  36. 2. Responsibilities of critical workers to work • US Department of Homeland Security has identified seventeen critical industries that comprise the national infrastructure (e.g. public health and healthcare, water, food, energy, water, banking, transportation, telecommunications) • Maintenance of social order (and public safety) depends on continued operation of these industries • What is the duty of critical workers to work during a pandemic influenza? NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  37. Definition of critical workers When we say “critical workers”, we mean “critical workers in critical industries”. There are non-critical workers in critical industries; these recommendations would not apply to workers whose job function is not critical to the continued operation of the organization. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  38. Scenario A manager at a local grocery store designates cashiers and shelf stockers as critical workers for an influenza pandemic. Although he has informed his cashiers and shelf stockers that they are critical workers, the manager is not sure that these low-wage employees will report to work during a pandemic. The store does not have enough income to pay employees more for their work during the pandemic, and the manager is worried that the threat of termination will not be well received. He believes several of his employees would rather quit than work during a pandemic. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  39. Recommendation 3.1(Similar to 2.1) (a) Workers in critical industries have an ethical responsibility to perform their regular employment duties during an influenza pandemic and to assume new responsibilities for which they are trained, as long as actions by personnel will not lead to greater harm than the failure to act. (b) Government and employers have a reciprocal responsibility to ensure that workers are protected to the extent possible. For example, workers in critical industries at increased risk of infection should receive priority for available personal protective equipment, vaccinations, antiviral drugs, and other nonmedical control measures. All critical workers should receive behavioral health services and other goods or services needed to enable them to work. In addition, employers have a responsibility to ensure that workers are appropriately trained to fulfill the tasks assigned to them during a crisis. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  40. Recommendation 3.2(Similar to 2.2) Employers and contractors should design business continuity plans to prepare for events such as a pandemic. Plans should identify those positions that are critical to the continued operation of the industry and whether the job needs to be performed on-site or can be adequately performed off-site. Workers who would be required to work should be made aware of the expectation to work during events such as a pandemic upon hiring or upon the adoption of the plan. Employers and contractors should specify the supports that will be available to the critical workers to enable them to work, as well as the sanctions that will be enforced if critical workers fail to show up for work during a time of crisis. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  41. Recommendation 3.3 (a) Federal, state, and local governments have the primary responsibility to identify the types of businesses that are essential to meet society’s basic healthcare needs. Other businesses and organizations should also examine their services to determine if they provide essential goods and services for society. (b) During an influenza pandemic, organizations should prioritize the health of their employees and reduction of the spread of disease over the financial position of the organization. (c) Organizations have a duty to follow the recommendations, guidelines, and restrictions that public health and other government officials provide. For example, if social distancing measures are recommended, organizations not in critical industries should comply with these recommendations. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  42. 3. Individual Rights vs. Public Protection • The Governor and State Health Director have considerable powers during an emergency. • During a pandemic, one of the most effective tools in public health’s arsenal is implementation of social distancing. • Limiting contact can slow the spread of the virus. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  43. Photo #: NH 41730. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/ev-1910s/ev-1918/influenz.htm NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  44. From Hatchett RJ, Mecher CE, Lipsitch M. From the cover: Public health interventions and epidemic intensity during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2007. ;104:7582-7587. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  45. Balancing rights and protection • Public health officials should choose the least restrictive and least intrusive effective alternative that is necessary to protect the public. • Public health interventions should be as just and fair as possible. Justice requires that affected individuals have due process rights to challenge the restrictions and that restrictions be applied equitably to similarly situated individuals. • Public health should only seek the release of personal health information when needed to protect the public. Released information should be as limited as possible and the public should be aware of the safeguards in place to protect any information collected. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  46. Social distancing • Once the virus has entered society, quarantine and isolation will likely have little effect • Although within their powers, most experts anticipate government officials will request locations to close and people to refrain from mass gathering, rather than compel it NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  47. Recommendation 4.1 Government leaders should implement restrictions on personal liberties deemed likely to be effective to limit illness and mortality in the context of a pandemic, but should limit these measures to the least restrictive alternative reasonably necessary to protect the public. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  48. Recommendation 4.2 (a) Prior to and during the course of a pandemic, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services should partner with local health departments to develop a public outreach campaign to foster community awareness and understanding of pandemic influenza. The outreach campaign should: (i) Include other stakeholders, community groups, and the media; (ii) Ensure that the public is well informed of the potential need to use community mitigation efforts or to prioritize the use of limited resources; and (iii) Include mechanisms to obtain ongoing feedback from the community prior to and during the course of an influenza pandemic. (b) The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services should continue to work with the North Carolina Justice Academy, Administrative Office of the Courts, local law enforcement, UNC School of Government, North Carolina National Guard, and North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety to create an understanding of the need to use social distancing measures and other community mitigation efforts to prevent the spread of disease in an influenza pandemic. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  49. Recommendation 4.3 The Governor’s Office, in conjunction with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, should develop a coordinated communications plan, to ensure that the public obtains timely, accurate and continuous information about the influenza pandemic. Special attention should be paid to assure that this information is communicated to special populations, including, but not limited to, low-income communities, non-English speakers, and people who have visual or hearing impairments. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu

  50. Recommendation 4.4 (a) All levels of government should ensure that individuals who are affected by isolation or quarantine orders receive needed assistance in accessing resources to meet their basic needs while they are subject to restrictions. (b) Government, social relief agencies, and other community groups should coordinate efforts to address the basic subsistence needs of individuals who have been adversely affected by an influenza pandemic. NC IOM: Ethics and PanFlu