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date: 20 September 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the extent to which laws, policies, and ethics are used to plan for, prevent, and respond to catastrophic events that may negatively impact the public’s health. It begins with a brief, historical background on emergency legal preparedness, particularly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It then considers legal classifications of varied types of emergencies and related public health powers, the practice of “legal triage” in real-time events, and the ethical allocation of scarce resources. It also examines the debate over liability protections extending to health care personnel and entities during emergencies, and discusses in conclusion the potential application of public health emergencies related to other risks to human health such as drug addiction, food contamination, or seasonal influenza.

Keywords: laws, policies, ethics, catastrophic events, public health, legal preparedness, emergencies, legal and ethical triage, liability, human health

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