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'JAMA' publishes Hodge article

January 28, 2010

Following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and the recent Haitian earthquake, one of the worst natural disasters in history, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published an article about legal determinations of medical standards of care during public health emergencies by James G. Hodge Jr., Lincoln Professor of Health Law and Ethics, and Director of the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law's Public Health Law and Policy Program.

The article, "Assessing the Legal Standard of Care in Public Health Emergencies," will be published in the Jan. 27 issue of JAMA. Hodge, who co-authored the manuscript with Brooke Courtney of the Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Baltimore, said the timing of its release and what has transpired since the devastating earthquake in Haiti is uncanny.

"Global health threats like the H1N1 pandemic and natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti entail significant emergency medical response efforts," Hodge said. "Legal issues related to appropriate standards of care in triage environments implicate potential pitfalls for responders that add to their physical and mental health risks."

In the article, Hodge and Courtney propose a new framework for assessing legal standards of care in emergencies, where concerns about legal liability may alter how care is delivered. Their approach seeks to balance the needs of practitioners and patients with public health objectives.

"Under current approaches, malpractice claims are assessed as to whether a practitioner acted consistently with how a similarly situated, reasonable practitioner (either nationally or locally) would have treated patients during an emergency," the authors wrote. "There is a better way to adjudge the liability of physicians and other clinicians in emergencies."

To read the full article, click here.

Through scholarly and applied work, Hodge delves into multiple areas of public health law, global health law, ethics, and human rights. He teaches Health Law, Ethics, and Policy, Public Health Law and Ethics, and Global Health Law and Policy. Hodge is also an Adjunct Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a Senior Scholar at the Centers for Law and the Public's Health: A Collaborative at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities. He is President of the Public Health Law Association, and Vice-Chair of the ABA Public Health Interest Group.

Janie Magruder,
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law