UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine at UMMS-Baystate

Publication Date


Document Type



Analytical, Diagnostic and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment | Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Health Services Administration | Infectious Disease | Virus Diseases


This white paper provides basic ethical guidelines for treating patients with suspected or confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19). It responds to the need from healthcare organizations to address the moral considerations inherent to caring for this patient population, particularly in the context of scarce resource allocation, the imposition of limits to individual freedoms, and de facto social distancing. These guidelines are not narrowly prescriptive, but recognize the need of decision makers to transform this guidance into specific decisions. Ethical decision making assumes that such judgments will be based on current scientific knowledge, that effectiveness of interventions is carefully assessed, and that transparency of the process is evident. As specific decisions are considered, processes should be in place for identifying which ethical issues were addressed, how guidelines were used, how decisions affected the community, and what lessons can be shared with other decision makers. In this way, these guidelines will continue to be an interactive, working document.


COVID-19, coronavirus, pandemic, medical ethics, ethical guidelines, crisis standards of care, public health emergency, scarce resource allocation, disaster bioethics

Rights and Permissions

Open access. Publisher's PDF posted as allowed by publisher's author rights policy at

DOI of Published Version



DePergola, P. A. (2020). Ethical Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Online Journal of Health Ethics, 16(1).

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Online Journal of Health Ethics