Saving life is a top priority of the healthcare system. Under normal circumstances, patients with life-threatening conditions will be given priority over other patients with reference to their higher need.
However, as the ongoing pandemic has shown, there are exceptional situations where, due to lack of ICU beds, personnel and other resources, priorities may have to be made between patients with equally life-threatening conditions. What ethical principles should inform these hard decisions?
The theme for the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics’ Award Winner Seminar 2021 is priority settings in healthcare in pandemics and other situations of mass casualties. The issue will be discussed from both a theoretical and a policy perspective. Experiences and lessons from the pandemic in different European countries will be shared.
The theme for the Seminar has been chosen by professor Torbjörn Tännsjö, winner of the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics’ Award for 2020.
Please find the speakers’ presentations below.
See the webb film from the seminar.
The seminar was held in English.
Chair of the morning session: Gustaf Arrhenius, Director of the Institute for Futures Studies, Professor of Practical Philosophy
Dag Larsson, Member of The Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics and Member of Parliament
09:05-09:15 Why a seminar on priority settings in situations of mass casualties?
Torbjörn Tännsjö, Professor emeritus of Philosophy, Stockholm University, winner of the Swedish National Council of Medical Ethics’ award for 2020
09:15-11.00 Priority setting and ethical theories
09:15-10:30 What ethical theories tell us?
Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, Princeton University
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, assistant professor of Philosophy, University of Łódź
Torbjörn Tännsjö, Professor emeritus of Philosophy, Stockholm University
10:45-11:00 Questions from the audience
11.00-11.15 Coffee break
11:15-12:30 Swedish perspectives
11.15-11:40 Two additional operative principles for health resource allocation on the institutional and overarching policy levels: primary prevention and sustainability
Christian Munthe, Professor of Practical Philosophy, University of Gothenburg
11:40-12:05 Swedish priorities of intensive care during the pandemic – a utilitarian turn or in line with a needs based healthcare?
Lars Sandman, Professor of Health-care Ethics and Director, National Centre for Priorities in Health, Linköping University
12:05-12.30 Should we prioritize health care workers during pandemics?
Niklas Juth, Associate professor of Medical Ethics, Karolinska Institute
Chair of the afternoon session: Nils-Eric Sahlin, Professor of Medical Ethics, Lund University, member of the Swedish National Council on Medical Ethics
13:15-14:50 European experiences and lessons
13:15-13:40 Justice and distribution of scarce resources in pandemics
Laura Palazzani, Professor of Philosophy of Law, Biolaw and Bioethics, University of Roma, vice chair the Italian Committee for Bioethics (participates virtually)
13:40-14:05 Justice and solidarity in times of pandemic
Alena Buyx, Professor of Ethics of Medicine and Health Technologies at the Technical University of Munich, chair of the German Ethics Council (participates virtually)
14:05-14:30 Ethical Considerations underpinning equitable access to scarce healthcare resources in the context of COVID-19
Siobhán O’Sullivan, Prof. Healthcare Ethics and Law, Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland and Chief Bioethics Officer in the Irish Ministry for Health (participates virtually)
14:30-14:55 Priority groups for coronavirus vaccination: experiences from Norway
Ole Frithjof Norheim, Professor, Director BCEPS, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, Bergen Centre for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS)
14:55-15:15 Coffee break
Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek
Ole Frithjof Norheim