Much has changed in healthcare during the coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic. Medicine, a profession of traditional principles and virtues, has faced unprecedented challenges in the light of scarce and unequal distribution of ventilators, testing, and personal protective equipment. Healthcare workers have been- and are increasingly likely to be- forced into situations that require difficult decision making under life-and-death conditions. Concepts of “medical necessity” and “maximum benefit” challenge healthcare systems that already struggle to manage unequal treatment and access to services, giving rise to moral distress and moral injury on the front lines.
This article focuses on moral injury in the context of coronavirus disease (COVID)-19 pandemic. I review recent literature to highlight the psychological impact of many morally-injurious events that have been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of a clinical vignette, I point out how healthcare systems adopt many utilitarian policies in times of excessive healthcare burden. A viewpoint is offered that many morally injurious events happen when healthcare workers, traditionally practicing Kantian and virtue ethics, are forced to follow utilitarian policies of healthcare system.
One form of moral injury may arise from inherent conflicts between individual deontological moral judgments and organizational utilitarian moral judgments. More research is needed to validate the philosophical viewpoint as well as to explore whether increased awareness and education of key principles within moral philosophy can better equip healthcare workers in situations when public health takes precedence over individual health.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : COVID-19, Moral Distress, Moral Injury, Utilitarianism