It is imperative that a healthcare institution address issues related to the duty of healthcare professionals during a pandemic crisis. However, this must be done legally through a formal policy. The compelling and threats subjected to the health care professionals during a pandemic outbreak raise some questions about laws or policies governing health care professionals during an outbreak. Discussed here is a proposal of laws that can be applied during a pandemic. Moreover, this proposal includes provisions that can be used by the organization in the employment agreement signed by health care professionals.
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Since the organization has no laws addressing the discussed issues, the following laws can be applied
This law implies that a health care professional is mandated to be at the place of work if the employment agreement stipulates so at the time of the pandemic. This means that only health care professionals who are on leave will be protected from the consequences of not working. The Family and Medical Leave Act provides for such a regulation. Besides, the healthcare employees may be restrained from working in pandemic events if the situation endangers their health and if it can cause physical harm or even death. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides these specifications.
Contractual obligation law
This law should be clear as to whether the health care professional is obligated to be at work during an outbreak of a pandemic. This law is enforced by the principle of the ‘emergency-care responsibility’. This responsibility is assumed and followed as law during emergencies. The termination of this contract can only be done under the notice of some days before the predetermined time.
The employer needs to take into account the federal statutes associated with healthcare during a pandemic event. These statutes should be included in the employment contract, to which healthcare employees must be a signatory. Some of these statutes include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).
The above laws are applicable in the employment agreements. However, organizations can ensure that the following provisions are used to ensure the effectiveness of the laws.
- Assumption of risk: the laws should be formed under the assumption of risk. The law assumes that health care professionals are fully aware of the risks associated with the pandemic.
- Social contract: The laws recognize that health care practitioners are socially obligated to offer their services and skills for the promotion of health in society.
- Special skills: The law recognizes that health care practitioners have special skills and require the enhancement of their skills in addressing pandemics.
- Preferential treatment: Society should accord special treatment to the healthcare practitioners by giving them access to amenities and facilities that require immediate provision.
- Positive incentives: The laws require all healthcare workers to be awarded for their service in preventing and treating infectious diseases.
- Liability protection: The laws should ensure that health care workers are protected from liability on decisions made during the pandemic period.
Healthcare works duty to work in a pandemic situation should be guided by the following moral principles
This implies that health care workers are obliged to be ready to serve and act for the benefit of the patient with infectious disease.
This principle expects the health care workers to practice justice to all patients regardless of disability, age, sex, and social status.
Society owes the health care workers who assume high risks through the following
Health care workers risk their lives for others and so they should receive financial awards.
The society through the federal government should protect volunteers and health care workers from unpredicted crime repercussions.
Minimal risk and amenities
The society through healthcare policymakers should reduce risks by giving workers protective masks and respirators.