Minnesota Pandemic Ethics Project
The Minnesota Pandemic Ethics Project is part of the state of Minnesota’s efforts to plan for the possibility of an influenza pandemic. Predicting the timing and severity of a future pandemic is impossible. The Minnesota Department of Health chose to focus this project on the possibility of a severe pandemic, because that is where the most difficult ethical choices lie and where a project such as this might provide the most assistance to pandemic planners and responders.
The goal was to develop ethical frameworks and procedures for rationing several types of health-related resources in a severe influenza pandemic: antiviral medications, influenza vaccines, surgical masks and N95 respirators, and mechanical ventilators.
The Minnesota Department of Health contracted with ethicists from the Minnesota Center for Health Care Ethics and the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics to develop and lead the Project. The contractors convened a community-based resource allocation panel, expert work groups, an implementation protocol committee, and several public forums and discussion groups within a variety of communities. All told, the project’s recommendations reflect the work and input of approximately 600 Minnesotans. The project demonstrated that carefully designed public engagement on scientifically and ethically complex questions on rationing—one of the most difficult topics in health policy—is feasible and productive.
- The project’s recommended ethical frameworks for rationing are contained in: For the Good of Us All: Ethically Rationing Health Resources in Minnesota in a Severe Influenza Pandemic (PDF). This report also contains descriptions of the project’s public engagement activities.
- The project's recommended guidance about implementing the ethical frameworks for rationing are contained in: Implementing Ethical Frameworks for Rationing Scarce Health Resources in Minnesota During Severe Influenza Pandemic (PDF)
- A review of relevant literature and government plans for responding to pandemic influenza, developed by the contractors from the Minnesota Center for Health Care Ethics and the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics: Ethical Guidance for Rationing Scarce Health-Related Resources in a Severe Influenza Pandemic:
Literature and Plan Review (PDF)