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Law and Ethics

The legal and ethical framework for disaster/emergency nursing practice.

Ethical guidelines and legal frameworks are increasingly common components of disaster and pandemic response plans. As healthcare systems across countries plan for disasters and pandemics, ethical guidelines that are theoretically sound and practically useful should help form a foundation for nursing responses. Ethical and legal guidance also is important for crisis standards of care (CSCs) during disaster response. A CSC declaration is a recognition that resources are limited and everyday standards of clinical care are not possible under the circumstances.

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Academic Articles and Books

The Ethical Dilemma: Questions to consider when deciding whether to show up for work in a disaster – American Journal of Nursing (2006) [paywall]

  • Poses hypothetical questions designed to engage readers in a discussion about the ethical duty of response during emergency situations.

Perspectives on Ethical Nursing Practice in Disaster During the Hajj 2015 – ISOR Journal of Nursing and Health Science (2018)

  • Describes a qualitative study examining the ethical perspectives of several emergency nurses who responded to a disaster in Saudi Arabia.

Ethical and legal challenges associated with disaster nursing – Nursing Ethics (2014) [paywall]

  • Describes a qualitative study examining ethical and legal challenges that arose during various disaster responses in Iran, including insights from 35 nurses who worked in response to a disaster at some point during the prior 10 years.
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Guidance and Training Documents

Who Will Be There? Ethics, the law, and a nurse’s duty to respond in a disaster – American Nurses Association (2017)

  • Issue brief outlining the ethical and legal considerations of nurses’ roles in disaster response.
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Webinars, Podcasts, and Other New Media

Disaster Preparedness: Legal Aspects of Disaster Nursing – Slides from Dr. Shikha Shrivastava (2020)

  • Slide deck highlighting many legal and ethical considerations for nurses responding to disasters.
International Resource Center for Pandemic and Disaster Nursing
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