I would like to discuss the impact H1N1 has on health law and ethics specifically in relation to how physicians and health-care workers have the same human rights as all citizens: they have a right to be protected against infectious disease. In 2009 there was a flu pandemic and global outbreak of a new strain of the Influenza A virus called H1N1 or “swine flu”. I remember this time period distinctly as I worked for a laboratory and worked closely with the specimens that were obtained and sent out for testing.
This 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic caused the first pandemic in more than 40 years (Cohen, 2009). This leads me to think about health law and ethics. I will also include a minimum of 5 individual topics covered this past semester.
Physicians have an obligation to treat patients with infections, even at the risk of their own health (Gardiner, 2008). Thanks to implied consent as learned in Unit 7 (The Professional- Patient Relationship) the physician/patient relationship begins when the physician responds to a patient’s implied or expressed request for treatment. For example, a physician who is responding to a H1N1 patient who is not conscious and is in respiratory distress must respond to this patient via implied consent. Additionally, as learned in Unit 9 (Informed Consent) if the patient’s life hangs in the balance and there is no time to obtain consent and/or obtaining consent would not be in the best interest of the patient, it is assumed that you have consent to proceed. We will add to this scenario that the patient has stopped breathing as a result of being in respiratory distress and their life hangs in the balance. This also relates to what we learned in Unit 9 where “circumstances when consent may be implied: Emergency Treatment, the individual is unable to communicate and appears to be suffering from a life-threatening injury”.
We now have a scenario where there is an (1) H1N1 pandemic, (2) there is a patient who needs to be...