COVID-19: Mental health and clinical equipoise in the face of moral injury

C Grobler


The COVID-19 pandemic may result in ‘moral injury’ and mental illness to health care workers (HCWs). Resources may at some point run out and situations may arise where difficult ethical decisions need to be made. Properly preparing staff for the job and the associated challenges reduces the risk of moral injury and mental health problems. Under conditions of information overload and uncertainty-related anxiety such as with the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors may stop acting with clinical equipoise and make cognitive errors. These circumstances require doctors to be the voice of reason and lead by example. Doctors must reason critically, be aware of the biases that may influence thinking processes and critically appraise evidence in deciding how to treat patients. Health care systems must address the stress of HCW’s by continuously monitoring reactions and and creating mechanisms to offer psychosocial support.

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C Grobler, Elizabeth Donkin Hospital

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South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2020;13(1):21-22. DOI:10.7196/SAJBL.2020.v13i1.00724

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-07
Date published: 2020-07-07

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