Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ethical Decision Making in Times of Public Health Catastrophe

Yesterday I attended the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice's (NWCPHP) first of three web conferences about ethical decision making, the session description is

People understand their own moral principles, usually intuitively and without much question. When serious disaster or disruption occurs and the world as we know it changes drastically, we learn that the way we see the world, the way we perceive cause and effect, and the way we evaluate our choices are not necessarily shared by others, even by loved ones or close coworkers. But if we discuss the principles behind our world views before catastrophe strikes, we can be better planners and decision-makers during crisis situations.

Slides are located here, and an archived session recording (1 hour) here.

Dr. Harvey Kayman, who became a public health officer after 25 years in pediatrics and 14 years as chief patient educator of the Fremont clinic at Kaiser Permanente, was a very effective and responsive web conference presenter. Many webcasters do not handle audience questions consisting of both audio and text well but he strove for inclusiveness. I highly encourage listening to the recording for a wealth of information beyond the slides and am looking forward to the second webconference in March 2009.


Anonymous said...

RE: People understand their own moral principles, usually intuitively and without much question.

I see lots of people who express understanding of their own moral principles. However, I see very few who do more than emote on their own moral dilemmas. If I am looking for his views on how "understanding" converts to actions, would I be wasting my time to view the presentation links?

Thanks in advance.


Nikki Dettmar said...

Hello Dr. Gelzer, it's good to hear from you.

I would say this presentation is an introduction to the fact that personal ethics is even a factor in a disaster/emergency response. There was a poll during the presentation that indicated a fair number of participants hadn't had this discussion at their place of work.

There are resources cited for Dr. Kayman's mapping of biomedical ethics (Justice) to public health ethics (Least unfair distribution of benefits & burdens) you may find of interest. I'd recommend scanning the Powerpoint slides & if they pique your interest to listen to the full presentation.

Best regards,