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emergency planning, ethics, public health ethics, public health preparedness, standards of care



  1. Etkind, Paul DrPH, MPH
  2. Arias, Donna BS
  3. Bagley, Bobbie BSN, MPH, RN
  4. Nelson, Mary S. BS, MEd


A tremendous amount of resources is being poured into public health agencies for the purpose of planning to prevent, respond to, and/or recover from all manner of emergencies. As planning and practice drills have progressed, many of the shortcomings of our current public health system are being recognized. Many gray areas, particularly legal and ethical, are coming into focus. There are many questions about whether the standards of medical care and public health practice will necessarily remain constant during emergencies. This article examines whether the same might be true of the ethical standards of public health practice. Will they or should they be the same regardless of whether we are working in "usual" times or "unusual" times?