The COVID-19 pandemic makes exceptional demands on physicians in the United States as the number of cases continues to climb and the critical capacity of health systems is tested. Physicians and health care organizations find themselves facing significant ethical challenges.
The guidance of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Code of Medical Ethics is as relevant in the context of a public health crisis as it is in more familiar circumstances of clinical practice. To help physicians address the challenges of COVID-19, the AMA has assembled a series of analyses that apply the Code to issues emerging in the pandemic.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the country, physicians need not navigate these challenges alone,” said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A. “The thoughtful deliberations of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs embodied in the AMA Code of Medical Ethics are there to guide them.”
These issue-specific analyses range widely, offering guidance not only about allocating limited resources, but also responsible prescribing in the context of the pandemic, the importance of research ethics in the accelerated search for effective treatments for COVID-19, and issues of access to care and equity. New analyses are posted as questions continue to emerge:
- AMA Code of Medical Ethics: Guidance in a pandemic
- Restrictive covenants and patient care in a pandemic
- Graduating early to join the physician workforce
- Prescribing medications responsibly in a pandemic
- Providing patient care remotely in a pandemic
- Fair access to limited critical care resources
- Clinical research versus patient care: Conducting clinical trials
- Caring for patients at the end of life
- Clinical research versus patient care: Access experimental treatment
- AMA Declaration of Professional Responsibility
- Obligations to protect health care professionals
- Access and health equity during a pandemic
- Speaking out on issues adversely affecting patient safety in a pandemic
- Protecting public health & vulnerable populations in a pandemic
- Physicians in the media: Responsibilities to the public and the profession
- Use of patient registries during public health emergencies
- Research ethics in a public health crisis
As an editorially independent journal, the AMA Journal of Ethics has also created a COVID-19 Ethics Resource Center that includes expert analyses, visual assets, podcasts and video content.
These ethics resources are part of the comprehensive guidance from the AMA that help physicians navigate patient care as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Stay informed and updated on clinical information, guides, advocacy and medical ethics by connecting with the AMA COVID-19 Resource Center.