Ethical considerations in mass casualty situation

I. E. Priel, E. Dolev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mass casualty is a situation, in which, the physician is compelled to make critical decisions under heavy pressure load, due to severe shortage in time, personnel and information. This task is extremely difficult to fulfill, as the physician has to consider not only professional tools, but needs also to utilize ethical principles, in order to provide the best possible care to most of the casualties who might benefit from it. By definition, in the mass casualty situation the medical facility lacks temporarily the ability to deliver effective therapy to all, as the injured outnumber the medical capacity for a given time. The ethical conflicts and dilemmas that arise during such an event are enormous. Amazingly, only a few articles have addressed the issue of ethical considerations during mass casualty situation. Ethical decision making is based on four principles: beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy and justice. Compassion, trustworthiness, discernment and integrity are the four qualities required from those practicing medicine. These virtues should be manifested in mass casualty situations, one of the most demanding situations a physician may face.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-577, 680
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2001


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