Ethical Aspects of Fair Resource Allocation in Hospitals during the Covid-19-crisis – A Qualitative Assessment
Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine
Carried out by: Clemens Friedrich Schmidt, cand.med
The Covid-19 pandemic has posed profound challenges to the healthcare system, especially where the allocation of health resources is concerned. The pandemic has led to an immediate scarcity of personal protective equipment which had to be rapidly obtained, stocked and distributed. Staff and treatment time shortages had to be accounted for as well. The topic of Triage, the allocation of intensive care treatment on an individual level, immediately dominated the discussion, soon to be followed by a debate on the allocation of vaccines on a much higher, macroscopic level. However, in between these levels, for example in hospitals and care facilities, allocation decisions were and continued to be critical as well.
The aim of this study is to examine what kind of ethical problems and intersubjective conflicts were prevalent with respect to resource allocation on the so-called meso-level of hospitals as institutions of the healthcare system. For this purpose, we will conduct a qualitative survey via the means of expert interviews with employees and employers of medium-sized hospitals in the region of Göttingen to analyse how allocation decisions were communicated and implemented during the crisis situation in Spring 2020. Which ethical problems became visible in the allocation process in the view of healthcare workers in hospitals? The project thus aims at contributing to the ethical discussion on fair resource allocation in crisis situations and is set to close a gap in research on the perspective of hospital staff on this topic.