An ethical framework for decision-making about staff safety: balancing health professional wellbeing and duty to care

Dr Rosalind McDougall, Prof Lynn Gillam, Dr Danielle Ko, Ms Isabella Holmes, Prof Clare Delany

Clinicians usually have the information and resources they need to appropriately protect themselves while still providing optimal care for patients.

In the COVID-19 pandemic however, achieving both staff protection and high quality patient care has become difficult in many settings.  Sometimes the two values – health professional wellbeing and patient care – cannot both be optimised due to the virus itself as well the health system conditions the pandemic has created.

The aim of this ethical framework is to guide the process of balancing these two values by facilitating ethical reflection and/or decision-making that is systematic, specific and transparent.

The framework applies to issues of PPE in COVID-19, and also has potential to assist decision-makers in other situations involving protection of health care staff.

This version of the framework will be revised and updated following feedback and review. Feedback is welcome:

Please view: Ethical decision-making tool

More Information

Dr Rosalind McDougall