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Special Edition: Infection Control - May 2020 - Subscribe to Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Outpatient Surgery Magazine, providing current information on Surgical Services, Surgical Facility Administration, Outpatient Surgery News and Trends, OR Excellence and more.

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M A Y 2 0 2 0 • O U T PA T I E N T S U R G E R Y. N E T • 5 3 What role does medical ethics play in health care — especially in the pandemic we are witnessing right now? Patients, families and clinicians make challenging life-and-death deci- sions every day. Sometimes these decisions can lead to conflict, or challenging ethical questions that ethicists help unravel. What is dif- ferent in the age of COVID-19 is how these questions are urgent and applicable across the entire country and thus playing out in the public eye. It makes me glad to be in the career I'm in, to try and guide good- hearted people attempting to make the best decisions during a very difficult time. What lessons from the AIDs epidemic apply to what we're seeing right now with the coronavirus outbreak? In AIDs care, we've had to learn how to empower patients to reduce their risk of transmission in realistic, livable ways. That experience can teach us a lot about COVID-19. Sure, if we all took every breath within a Hazmat suit, we'd have near zero risk of infection. Instead, we can educate people about means of risk reduction, and help them figure out which means is workable. Along the way, this can involve reassuring people — reminding them really — that 100% safety isn't really the goal. Rather, we are trying to live a good life, with reason- able safety. OSM Dr. Lahey (timothy.lahey@uvmhealth.org) is an infectious disease physician and the director of clinical ethics at the University of Vermont Medical Center, and a professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM, both in Burlington.

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