Navigation Links
Hopkins doctor/disaster expert says resource problems in Haiti required ethical decision-making
Date:3/11/2010

In an essay published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a Johns Hopkins emergency physician outlines how he and other physicians who worked in Haiti after the earthquake had to make emotionally difficult ethical decisions daily in the face of a crushing wave of patients and inadequate medical resources.

Thomas D. Kirsch, M.D., M.P.H., writes in the essay that the team of Johns Hopkins physicians that he lead in Haiti for two weeks soon after the earthquake had to quickly adjust standards of care that are common in the United States due to the sheer volume of patients, the wide range of injuries and complaints, and inadequate medical resources that had to be allocated to those most likely to benefit from them.

Kirsch and his six-member team worked at University Hospital in Port-au-Prince, where they saw on average 350 to 450 patients per day. In the JAMA essay, Kirsch dubs this daily march of the suffering "The Line."

This tide of battered humanity, which began forming some days at 5:30 a.m., Kirsch writes, was "unrelenting in numbers, in illness, in injury, and in heartbreak."

"The Line is a force that never stops its pressure. It is the pressure of the massive imbalance of needs and resources," writes Kirsch and his co-author and wife Margaret Moon, M.D., M.P.H.

As a result of these problems, the authors note, "The standards have to change The standards get lower, must be lower than anything these clinicians have ever imagined before. We worry about the slippery slope toward inhumane medicine."

The intense experience in Haiti, Kirsch writes, raises many troubling and difficult ethical and moral questions, none of which have easy answers. Kirsch, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, is now working with the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, to host a symposium this fall to explore the ethics of triage and resource-allocation during mass disasters.

The Berman Institute is an independent, interdisciplinary center dedicated to the study of complex moral and medical issues.

Kirsch, a trained medical disaster expert who assisted with medical responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, was among the first medical staff sent to Haiti by Johns Hopkins Medicine. He deployed to the country soon after the massive January 12 earthquake, which killed an estimated 230,000 people, as part of the Johns Hopkins Go Team. The multidisciplinary group of approximately of 185 is trained to respond to natural and manmade catastrophes. Moon, a Johns Hopkins pediatrician, did not deploy to Haiti.

Kirsch has been tapped by the nonprofit Earthquake Engineering Research Institute to help assess earthquake building damage in Chile. Kirsch will be looking into how building damage contributed to injuries, deaths and hospital closings in the February 27 earthquake.


'/>"/>

Contact: Mark Guidera
mguider1@jhmi.edu
443-898-2320
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Johns Hopkins Launches “Energy Policy and Climate” Master's Degree
2. Johns Hopkins scientists develop personalized blood tests for cancer using whole genome sequencing
3. Protecting patients: Study shows that Johns Hopkins flu vaccination rates twice national average
4. The Chicago Office of McDonald Hopkins Continues to Expand: Healthcare Attorney, Charles F. MacKelvie, Joins the Firms National Healthcare and Healthcare Restructuring Practice Groups
5. Johns Hopkins researchers say vaccine appears to mop up leukemia cells Gleevec leaves behind
6. Johns Hopkins researchers track down protein responsible for chronic rhinosinusitis with polyps
7. CEL-SCI to Conduct First Clinical Study of Investigational LEAPS-H1N1 Treatment for Hospitalized H1N1 Infected Patients at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
8. Johns Hopkins epigenetic center receives $16.8 million NIH grant
9. Johns Hopkins Hospital Physicians Help Improve Operative Care in Africa
10. Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions Deploys Perceptrak(R) by Cernium
11. Johns Hopkins leads first 16-patient, multicenter domino donor kidney transplant
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library on June 21 due ... up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ability to live away ... a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that lice have simply gotten ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Dr. Calvin Johnson ... Recently, he has implemented orthobiologic procedures as a method for treating his patients. ... the first doctors to perform the treatment. Orthobiologics are substances that orthopaedic surgeons ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may ... to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To ... for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... Global law firm Greenberg Traurig, P.A. announced that 20 Florida attorneys are ... for this recognition are considered among the top 2 percent of lawyers practicing within ... of this year’s Legal Elite Hall of Fame: Miami Shareholders Mark D. Bloom, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening their pencils and honing ... contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to a genetic counselor by ... Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this September. , In ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Revolutionary technology includes multi-speaker listening to ... leaders in advanced audiology and hearing aid technology, has ... the world,s first internet connected hearing aid that opens ...      (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382240 ) , ... firsts,: , TwinLink™ - the first dual ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 The vast majority ... outpatient dialysis facility.  Treatments are usually 3 times a ... per visit, including travel time, equipment preparation and wait ... but especially grueling for patients who are elderly and ... skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers for some duration of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... FRANKLIN, Tenn. , June 23, 2016 ... for automating, integrating and transforming the patient ... launch of several innovative new products and ... depth of its revenue cycle offerings. These ... establish more efficient workflows, remain compliant in ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: