Online Program

Development of a Regional Consensus Statement on Ethical Practices in the Treatment of Ebola Virus Disease for Hospitals and Health Systems

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Eric Meslin, PhD, School of Medicine, Center for Bioethics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
Chad Priest, JD, MSN, RN, Department of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN
Josh Mugele, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianpaolis, IN
Justin Mast, RN, BSN, MESH Coalition, Indianapolis, IN
Josh Rager, BA, Indiana University Center for Bioethics, Indianapolis, IN

We describe a community-based collaborative process in a large Midwestern region to develop a consensus statement on ethical practices in the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) for hospitals.


As a result of the EVD outbreak in West Africa and several instances of cases in the United States, hospitals across the world initiated plans and processes to identify and treat suspected cases. Hospitals planning to treat patients with EVD faced built environment constraints (e.g., lack of adequately sized anterooms in ICUs) and challenges working in and with PPE leading to tough ethical questions about which treatments (e.g., cardiac resuscitation) may be possible and which could not be performed safely. The fragmented nature of this decision making posed a threat to area hospitals as some might be perceived as providing ‘better’ care than others. Leveraging an existing emergency management healthcare coalition to convene the hospitals, and a strong bioethics center at a major university to lead the process, the hospital systems agreed to develop a consensus ethical framework defining parameters for EVD care.

Results/Outcomes /Conclusions

Ethics officers, legal staff, and clinicians met over two months to develop consensus on a major ethical framework and policies that could be adopted by each constituent hospital.  The consensus recommendation was provided to the healthcare coalition, which then published and encouraged adoption among the facilities, providing a universal framework for EVD response and treatment in the region. The facilitated discussion process also reinforced the strong commitment to collaboration and partnership around emergency management issues.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Ethics, professional and legal requirements
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Describe the process by which hospitals can collaborate to develop regional consensus on difficult ethical issues arising from management of highly infectious diseases.

Keyword(s): Ethics, Emergency Preparedness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a nationally recognized expert in healthcare emergency management. I publish and present widely on the topic and have developed numerous programs and initiatives related to hospital preparedness for infectious disease outbreaks.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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