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The Ethics of Coercion in Mass Casualty Medicine

, 176 pages
January 2007
List price:$50.00
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The Ethics of Coercion in Mass Casualty Medicine

Disasters, both natural and manufactured, provide ample opportunities for official coercion. Authorities may enact quarantines, force evacuations, and commandeer people and supplies—all in the name of the public’s health. When might such extreme actions be justified, and how does a democratic society ensure that public officials exercise care and forethought to avoid running roughshod over human rights?

In The Ethics of Coercion in Mass Casualty Medicine, Griffin Trotter explores these fundamental questions with skepticism, debunking myths in pursuit of an elusive ethical balance between individual liberties and public security. Through real-life and hypothetical case studies, Trotter discusses when forced compliance is justified and when it is not, how legitimate force should be exercised and implemented, and what societies can do to protect themselves against excessive coercion. The guidelines that emerge are both practical and practicable.

Drawing on core concepts from bioethics, political philosophy, public health, sociology, and medicine, this timely book lays the groundwork for a new vision of official disaster response based on preventing and minimizing the need for coercive action.

Griffin Trotter, M.D., Ph.D., is an associate professor of ethics at the Saint Louis University Center for Health Care Ethics and an associate professor of surgery, Emergency Medicine Division, at the Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center.

"The book is well written and thought-provoking. It would be an ideal textbook for advanced graduate courses in disaster management and public health ethics. "

"Trotter does not hesitate to question prevailing assumptions, perspectives, and practices... Some will agree with the author's positions; others will not. But all will be challenged by this book. Clearly written, well-argued, and carefully researched and documented."

" The Ethics of Coercion in Mass Casualty Medicine is a necessary component for the education of medical professionals and for the information of all citizens. We will, as a society, soon be required by the direct interventions of terrorists or by the indirect spread of infectious disease to judge whether the abridgements of freedom that will surround our care in mass casualties are fair and just. This well-written, carefully researched, and clearly argued book prepares us to confront these complex ethical and public health trade-offs; it is an essential part of individual preparedness."

"Trotter's valuable book provides illuminating analyses and assessments of several policies, practices, and acts of coercion in mass casualty medicine. At the same time, it offers important suggestions for a broader framework of public health ethics. This clear, thoughtful, and well-argued book merits wide attention."

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