The duty to treat in the context of an influenza pandemic

Vaccine. 2010 Jul 19;28(32):5260-4. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2010.05.059. Epub 2010 Jun 8.


The recent influenza pandemic proved that an influenza pandemic is no longer a future scenario. It may urge health care workers to undergo certain or even large risks. According to the WHO as well as commentators, a strong case can be made for adopting a duty to treat during a disease outbreak. Many current professional codes of ethics, however, fail to provide explicit guidance sufficient to set policy or assure the public in the event of an infectious disease outbreak. This paper aims to assess whether there is a duty to treat in the case of an influenza pandemic. As we conclude that there are valid reasons that support the duty to treat in this specific context, we will subsequently explore its scope and limits.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Health Personnel / ethics*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human / therapy*