Worst Case Scenarios: COVID-19, Ethics, and Triage

Wednesday, Apr 15, 2020
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Add to iCal

The Berman Institute of Bioethics and The Science & Entertainment Exchange invite you to:

Worst Case Scenarios: COVID-19, Ethics, and Triage


During catastrophic events, how do we decide, quite literally, who will live and who will die?

Catastrophic events quickly challenge fundamental assumptions about how we live and what we take for granted. This has been especially evident as we witness health systems around the world pushed to their limits in the wake of unprecedented strains caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Mounting examples of critical shortages in life-saving medical equipment, ICU and hospital beds, and blood products, as well as protective equipment for first responders and frontline healthcare workers make it clear how dire the situation can get… and how quickly. These shortages have resulted in the need for triage decisions that developed countries have only previously experienced during wartime. We now face daunting ethical challenges requiring difficult decisions in the days ahead. Join our expert panelists who are working round the clock to create a framework that balances the ethics of scarce resource allocation, public input on how to prioritize the members of their communities, and the nearly real-time work being carried out in hospitals. This is a tall order that has real-world consequences. But current events demand that we have plans for deciding, quite literally, who will live and who will die.


Jeffrey Kahn is the Andreas C. Dracopoulos Director of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. He works in a variety of areas of bioethics, exploring the intersection of ethics and health/science policy, including human and animal research ethics, public health, and ethical issues in emerging biomedical technologies.

Cynda Rushton is the Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics in the Berman Institute of Bioethics and the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University. An international leader in nursing ethics, her current scholarship in clinical ethics focuses on moral distress and suffering of clinicians, the development of moral resilience, designing a culture of ethical practice, and conceptual foundations of integrity, respect, trust and compassion.

Yoram Unguru is s a pediatric hematologist/oncologist with joint faculty appointments at The Herman and Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai and The Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. His scholarship and publications have focused on the role of children and providers in facilitating shared decision-making, end-of-life decision-making, allocation of scarce lifesaving medications, and ethics education.

About the Science & Entertainment Exchange

The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences, connects entertainment industry professionals with top scientists from across the country to create a synergy between realistic science and engaging entertainment. Chartered by Congress in 1863 under an Act signed by Abraham Lincoln to provide crucial scientific advice to the nation, the National Academy of Sciences, a private, nonprofit institution, is uniquely positioned to draw on the expertise of thousands of men and women who have distinguished themselves in their respective fields in science.