The Ethics Surrounding COVID
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How prepared are you for Ethics questions related to COVID-19 patients on the USMLE? Physician have a duty to provide a reasonably safe public spaces for both clinicians and patients and prospective patients to thrive. What if a person in the physician's waiting room fails to wear a mask? Does the act of allowing an unmasked individual to sit by constitute a breach of duty?
Could the physician expel such person from the waiting room? Is that legal? Would that constitute 'patient abandonment'? (i.e., the legal term for terminating the physician-patient relationship in such a manner that the patient is denied necessary medical care).
Some authorities consider the refusal to see a patient unless the patient wears a mask as not denying care, but rather establishing reasonable conditions for getting care. But others see it differently.
What if contact tracing of an individual with COVID showed that the only contact likely to have exposed the ill individual to the virus was an unmasked individual in a medical practice's waiting room, especially if the unmasked individual was COVID-positive before, during, or shortly after the visit to the practice?
What if the unmasked person is not a patient but the companion of a patient? What if the individual refusing to wear a mask is an employee?
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