Publications & Reports

Practical ethical challenges and moral distress among staff in a hospital COVID-19 screening service.

George P Drewett, Grace Gibney, Danielle Ko
Department of Infectious Diseases, Austin Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented disruptions to established models of healthcare and healthcare delivery, creating a host of new ethical challenges for healthcare institutions, their leadership and their staff. Hospitals and other large organisations have an obligation to understand and recognise the downstream effects that highly unusual situations and professionally demanding policy may have on workers tasked with its implementation, in order to institute risk-mitigation strategies and provide additional support where required. In our experience, targeted ethics-based forums that provide a non-confrontational platform to discuss and explore the ethical dilemmas that may have arisen have been well received, and can also serve as useful and immediate feedback mechanisms to managers and leadership. Using two case illustrations, this article examines some of the ethical challenges and dilemmas faced by these staff, based on discussions of shared experience during a clinical ethics forum for the Screening Clinic staff at Austin Health, Melbourne, Victoria.


  • Journal: Internal Medicine Journal
  • Published: 01/09/2021
  • Volume: 51
  • Issue: 9
  • Pagination: 1513-1516