Texas Ethics Consortium created amid COVID-19 pandemic by TMC experts – Health News Today

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and anxiety about the allocation of scarce resources became a growing cause for concern among medical ethicists.

Experts from multiple Texas Medical Center institutions decided to unite to address these issues.

“We got together on a regular call to help each other, share resources and work through our concerns,” explained Claire Horner, J.D., M.A., assistant professor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine and a clinical ethicist at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. “The goal was to harmonize our ethics policies, specifically around allocation of scarce resources. We were at the beginning of anticipating things that had already happened in New York, such as running out of hospital beds or running out of ventilators.”

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Shortly thereafter, when Houston began experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, colleagues across the United States began reaching out to Horner as well—including one from Michigan. That ethicist shared details about the new Michigan Ethics Consortium. Its members, scattered throughout the Great Lakes State, held a weekly call to discuss ethical issues, share resources and craft policies. Horner brought the idea to the Texas Medical Center ethics team and shortly thereafter, the Texas Ethics Consortium was born.

“In Texas, we were facing a lot of unique challenges with the surges we were having and with the ethical issues that we were coming up against,” Horner said. “It was really important for us to have a network from across Texas where ethicists can share their experiences and share their resources—especially in institutions that have fewer resources and may want to draw on the expertise of the broader group.”

Claire Horner, J.D., M.A., assistant professor in the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine and clinical ethicist at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center.

A top priority has been the potential scarcity of resources. Transplant cardiologist and ethicist Savitri Fedson, M.D., M.A., compared the dilemma to organ shortages and transplant waitlists.

“I live in a world of scarcity all the time and one thing that everyone realizes when it comes to transplants is their scarcity, but everyone accepts the process,” explained Fedson, who is also an associate professor at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine and the program director for Clinical Ethics at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. “People understand that there has to be a…