When disaster strikes, who decides what medical care is needed? How do doctors decide who gets first? Which injuries should be taken care of? How do responders deal with lingering questions about whether they did the right thing? What if one culture doesn’t want what another offers? What sort of research needs to happen to provide evidence about which health care interventions work best? Who should oversee disaster research?
These, and many other ethical questions are raised by disasters and responses to them. I’m involved in developing a network to address these questions, which has its own website at Disaster Bioethics. A few of my own resources are available from the links below.
Ana Borovecki, Jónína Einarsdóttir, Dónal O’Mathúna, Paulina Pospieszna, Orly Maya Stern, Natália Oliva Teles. “20 years of the ICRC Code of Conduct for Disaster Relief: What do we need to improve?” [Correspondence] The Lancet 385 (11 April 2015): 1391.
Dónal P. O’Mathúna, “Research ethics in the context of humanitarian emergencies,” Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 8.1 (2015): 31-35.
Dónal P. O’Mathúna, Bert Gordijn, Mike Clarke (eds.). Disaster Bioethics: Normative Issues When Nothing is Normal. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014. ISBN 978-94-007-3863-8.
“Ethics in disaster research,” Cochrane Evidence Aid podcast, 20 May 2011.
“Conducting research in the aftermath of disasters: ethical considerations,” Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 3.2 (2010): 65-75.