In October 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that
travelers arriving in the United States from the Ebola affected countries of Guinea, Sierra
Leone, and Liberia who do not have a fever or symptoms of the disease (including health
care workers who have cared for patients with Ebola virus disease) should be actively
monitored but do not need to be quarantined. However, after a New York physician, Craig
Spencer, was diagnosed with the infection shortly after returning from Guinea, where he
had cared for patients with Ebola, the states of New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Illinois
announced that they would implement mandatory quarantine policies. Describe the ethical
challenges these state and federal policies pose in terms of balancing individual rights and
public health. Do you believe that a mandatory quarantine was justified? Why or why not?
Although the number of cases involving the outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) since 2014,
the transition of caregivers infected with the condition from prone regions to health facilities in
the United States contributed to the spread of fear and increased awareness among the people.
These occurrences emanated from the initially misdiagnosis of Craig Spencer, who, before his
death, had transmitted EVD to two nurses who cared for him. As a result, such threats raised
ethical issues related to the emergency departments, hospitals, physicians, and nurses (Venkat et
al. 2015). These issues further focused on the appropriate ways in which resources should be
used in ensuring adequate preparation for potential events involving in the United States. These
ethical concerns were followed closely by the consideration of whether the standards of care for
treating patients infected with Ebola should differ from those provided to individuals with
conditions considered less contagious and lethal (Venkat et al. 2015).
Additionally, the incident brought along ethical concerns related to the obligations of
caregivers in engaging in such degrees of risk during the provision of necessary care services to
patients as part of their professionalism. In response to such concern, the incident involving
Craig Spencer contributed to states such as Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York
implementing mandatory quarantine policies. Nonetheless, the code of ethics, as stipulated under
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the American Medical Association (AMA), indicates that due to their dedication to caring for the
injured and sick, medical practitioners are obligated to offer necessary and immediate care,
especially during disastrous occurrences (Venkat et al. 2015). As such, I believe that such state
and federal policies are unjustified as they violate and disregard the ethical principle of
reciprocity. The principle of reciprocity necessitates that care providers should act in ways that
they expect others to treat them. It thus highlights a duty among care providers to provide
necessary care and support emergency physicians as well as nurse practitioners involved in the
voluntary services across nations adversely impacted by such emergencies (Venkat et al. 2015).
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Venkat, A., Asher, S. L., Wolf, L., Geiderman, J. M., Marco, C. A., & McGreevy, J. (2015).
Ethical Issues in the Response to Ebola Virus Disease in United States Emergency
Departments: A Position Paper of the American College of Emergency Physicians, the
Emergency Nurses Association, and the Society for Academic Emergency
Medicine. Academic Emergency Medicine, 22(5), 605-615.