Caregivers do not have the obligation to intervene without protective equipment

Les soignants n’ont pas l'obligation d’intervenir sans équipement de protection

Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand Agence France-Presse
In the pandemic situation, the current nursing staff has “the duty to protect themselves before acting”.

In case of shortages of protective equipment, medical, health personnel will not have any duty or obligation to intervene with a person infected by the COVID-19, mentions a new paper on the rights and responsibilities of health care workers whose Duty has obtained a copy.

In the pandemic situation, the current nursing staff has ” the duty to protect themselves before they act “, stipulates the position statement unveiled by the Collège des médecins du Québec, the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec, the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers auxiliaires du Québec and the Ordre professionnel des inhalothérapeutes du Québec.

Not only the health care provider is not obligated to “either by law or not its code of ethics to” take the risk of being infected by providing medical care to a person who might convey to him the COVID-19, says the document, ” it may even be required [according to the guidelines of some institutions] not to take risk at the time to intervene “.

In the case where the caregiver would be “intolerable” not to intervene, ” he should be able to justify the risk that it will be taken for him, other patients, colleagues, the healthcare system and the society “, says the statement of position entitled, Shortage of personal protective equipment during the pandemic COVID-19. Between the professional duty to heal and protect : what to choose ?.

“The recklessness is not set in the context of a pandemic such as that of the COVID-19, where each and everyone must exercise professionalism and responsible solidarity : a caregiver is likely to do more harm than good if it is infected, in the absence of precautions “, is it mentioned.

In the event that a member of the nursing staff could not provide care to a patient suffering or suspected of suffering from the COVID-19 because of the absence of a personal protective equipment (PPE), the health care worker shall immediately notify his superior and the “necessary adjustments” will need to be implemented to ” minimize the risk and provide patients with the care required “.

The document — which is a result of a reflection conducted jointly by the four colleges in the last few weeks — therefore emphasizes the ethical dilemma that caregivers may be faced in case of shortage of protection equipment : “the tension between their moral convictions, their legal obligations and ethical conduct and their duties to comply with public health measures designed to stem the pandemic “.

The emergency current health, and the “rarity” of the PPE, forcing the search for a “new balance” between all these tensions and require caregivers to “act sometimes differently” than usual, says the position statement that was highly anticipated by the medical staff.

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