In times of a pandemic, the primary responsibility of health care professionals shifts from maximizing the best interests of individual patients to prioritizing the health of the community. Given the surge of patients with the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), their clinical needs, and thus, resource utilization, the ongoing pandemic has amplified the duty of physicians to responsibly steward health care resources. Additionally, the well-being of health care professionals, both as scarce resources and as members of the community, must be safeguarded. Given this shift in ethical and clinical goals, policies have been implemented to limit the number of visitors accompanying patients in virtually all clinical settings. Such policies stem from balancing the benefits to the individual patient with the duty to reduce infectious exposures to visitors, other patients, the community, and the health care team. Notable exceptions to many of these policies exist for visitors for children, persons with disabilities, end-of-life care, and labor and delivery units.
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CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships. If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.
Corresponding Author: Kavita Shah Arora, MD, MBE, MS, 2500 MetroHealth Dr, Cleveland, OH 44109 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: May 22, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.7563
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Arora reported that she serves as vice chair of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Ethics Committee and is funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland, grant KL2TR0002547 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences component of the National Institutes of Health and National Institutes of Health roadmap for Medical Research. No other disclosures were reported.
Disclaimer: This article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or the National Institutes of Health.
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