Canadian mother whose son died from strep throat sentenced to three years in prison

BMJ 2017; 359: j5521
Author: Owen Dyer
“A mother from Calgary whose son died after she attempted to treat his strep throat at home with dandelion tea and oil of oregano has been sentenced to three years in prison for criminal negligence causing death. Tamara Lovett, 48, a believer in holistic medicine, did not call a doctor when her 7 year old son Ryan developed a throat infection, only calling an ambulance after two weeks of illness when she found him collapsed on the floor.”
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Distributive justice and the harm to medical professionals fighting epidemics

Journal of Medical Ethics 2017;43:861-864.
Authors: Andreas Albertsen, Jens Damgaard Thaysen
“The exposure of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals to risks in the context of epidemics is significant. While traditional medical ethics offers the thought that these dangers may limit the extent to which a duty to care is applicable in such situations, it has less to say about what we might owe to medical professionals who are disadvantaged in these contexts. Luck egalitarianism, a responsibility-sensitive theory of distributive justice, appears to fare particularly badly in that regard. If we want to maintain that medical professionals are responsible for their decisions to help, cure and care for the vulnerable, luck egalitarianism seems to imply that their claim of justice to medical attention in case of infection is weak or non-existent.”
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Emergency Legal Authority and the Opioid Crisis

NEJM Perspective, 15 November 2017
Authors: Lainie Rutkow, Jon S. Vernick
“Recently, six states have taken the unusual step of using their legal authority to declare their opioid-overdose situation an emergency. When a government issues an emergency declaration, it can temporarily act to mitigate the emergency using powers and resources that might not otherwise be available to it. Typically, emergency declarations pertain to natural disasters or infectious disease outbreaks. The severity of the opioid-overdose crisis has led to some of the first emergency declarations for a noncommunicable health condition, though their impact remains unclear.”
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Calvary Hospital, doctor sued for negligence after stillbirth of baby girl

SMH, 6 October 2017
Author: Alexandra Back
“A Canberra couple who tried unsuccessfully for years to have a baby is suing Calvary Hospital and an obstetrician for negligence, after their baby girl was stillborn in an operating theatre.”
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Written versus verbal consent: a qualitative study of stakeholder views of consent procedures used at the time of recruitment into a peripartum trial conducted in an emergency setting

BMC Medical Ethics 2017 18:36
Authors: J. Lawton, N. Hallowell, C. Snowdon, J. E. Norman, K. Carruthers, F. C. Denison
“Obtaining prospective written consent from women to participate in trials when they are experiencing an obstetric emergency is challenging. Alternative consent pathways, such as gaining verbal consent at enrolment followed, later, by obtaining written consent, have been advocated by some clinicians and bioethicists but have received little empirical attention.”
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How do we choose who gets the flu vaccine in a pandemic – paramedics, prisoners or the public?

The Conversation, 24 May 2017
Author: Connal Lee
“Ideally, everyone who needs to be immunised against influenza has access to the flu vaccine. But in a pandemic, initially there will be more people needing protection than there are doses. The potential impact of a pandemic is difficult to predict. In a pandemic, vaccines may not be available immediately and could take four to six months to produce. Once available, difficult distribution decisions arise. So how do authorities decide who to vaccinate first? Is it based on who’s most vulnerable? Who would benefit most? Or are other factors at play?”
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Personal factors affecting ethical performance in healthcare workers during disasters and mass casualty incidents in Iran: a qualitative study

Med Health Care and Philos (2017). doi:10.1007/s11019-017-9752-7
Authors: Mehrzad Kiani, Mohsen Fadavi, Hamidreza Khankeh, Fariba Borhani
“In emergencies and disasters, ethics are affected by both personal and organizational factors. Given the lack of organizational ethical guidelines in the disaster management system in Iran, the present study was conducted to explain the personal factors affecting ethics and ethical behaviors among disaster healthcare workers.”
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One third of ICU doctors bullied, survey finds, prompting crackdown by College of Intensive Care Medicine

SMH, 29 January 2017
Author: Kate Aubusson
“The College of Intensive Care and Medicine (CICM) has moved to stamp out bullying, discrimination and harassment in ICUs. The college surveyed almost 1000 fellows and trainees and found one third reported being bullied in the past two years. A total of 12 per cent report they had experienced discrimination and 3 per cent reporting being sexually harassed.”
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Staff shortages force surgeons to use ‘sticky tape’ to fix surgical instruments

SMH, 14 December 2016
Author: Anna Patty
“Senior surgeons say they are using “sticky tape” to fix surgical instruments during operations because of shortages of staff and equipment at Sydney’s busy Prince of Wales complex of hospitals. A litany of failures in the efficient supply of sterile equipment that works is outlined by a senior surgeon and in a confidential internal review.”
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