Restarting Orthopaedic Care in a Pandemic: Ethical Framework and Case Examples

Casey Jo Humbyrd, Alexandra M. Dunham, Amy L. Xu, Travis N. Rieder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The question about how to resume typical orthopaedic care during a pandemic, such as coronavirus disease 2019, should be framed not only as a logistic or safety question but also as an ethical question. The current published guidelines from surgical societies do not explicitly address ethical dilemmas, such as why public health ethics requires a cessation of nonemergency surgery or how to fairly allocate limited resources for delayed surgical care. We propose ethical guidance for the resumption of care on the basis of public health ethics with a focus on clinical equipoise, triage tiers, and flexibility. We then provide orthopaedic surgery examples to guide physicians in the ethical resumption of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E72-E78
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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