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Healthcare Professionals’ Ethical Concerns

Working in emergencies poses not only professional but also ethical challenges for healthcare employees, and the notorious Hurricane Katrina is an example of such a situation. While imagining myself as a direct participant in those events, I realize that I would have to face severe pressure caused by the dire consequences of the disaster and panic. To deal with these difficulties, I would use the methods described by Westrick (2014) regarding the ethical principles promoted by medical personnel. In particular, I would follow the ideas of autonomy, freedom, and justice in my decision-making, which would allow me to avoid claims of my professional responsibility.

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The behavior of healthcare employees working during Hurricane Katrina was a symbol of courage and dedication. As Erbele et al. (2020) argue, after the disaster, physicians and nurses had to save lives in desperate conditions and lacked the necessary resources. At the same time, due to the panic, the decisions made were not always deliberate and professionally competent. In particular, Erbele et al. (2020) mention poor communication among healthcare workers involved, which, in turn, hurt the speed of help and increased the number of victims. Therefore, despite employees’ selfless efforts, the lack of preparation for such a disaster was shocking and a valid reason for introducing the necessary emergency management practices in clinics.

From an organizational perspective, the need to promote emergency training programs among medical personnel has been a lesson learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The leaders of clinics and individual healthcare units began to pay more attention to resource bases and conduct the necessary training courses aimed to address the consequences of emergencies. From a professional perspective, employees have become aware of the mistakes made by their colleagues during Hurricane Katrina and started to promote communication as a necessary component of productive activities. Emergency team members have gained valuable experience and understood the importance of prompt assistance based on both professional and ethical principles.


Erbele, I. D., Arriaga, M. A., & Nuss, D. W. (2020). Shared surgical decision making in the era of COVID-19: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina. Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, 1-3. Web.

Westrick, S.J. (2014). Essentials of nursing law and ethics (2nd ed.). Jones and Bartlett Learning.

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