Emergency Legal Preparedness


Centers Co-Hosts Summit on Legal and Ethical Issues on the Frontlines of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response

On June 29, 2006, the Centers co-hosted a leadership summit in Washington, DC, on legal and ethical issues on the public health emergency preparedness and response along with the Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness and the Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute. The meeting brought together leaders and emerging thinkers in public health law, ethics, and preparedness. Participants engaged in discussions and exercises to generate a collection of best-practice guidelines for decision makers in response to legal and ethical challenges that may arise during a public health emergency.

Participants drew on their expertises in law, public health,
and ethics to identify and apply legal and ethical considerations to
case scenarios. The objective was to simulate decision-making in real
time and determine how specific principles would guide a response to a
local event.

The objective of the Summit was to generate a list of legal
and ethical principles on the allocation of scarce resources during
public health emergencies. This document, entitled Principles
of Law and Ethics to Guide Allocation Decisions Involving Scarce
Resources During Public Health Emergencies
, is now available
as a resource for public health practitioners and community planners.


Centers Comments on CDC’s Proposed Federal Quarantine Regulations

Lawrence O. Gostin, Benjamin E. Berkman, and David P. Fidler have prepared expert
concerning CDC’s
proposed federal quarantine regulations, Control
of Communicable Diseases (42 CFR Parts 70 and 71)
. The Centers
commends CDC’s effort to strengthen and modernize one of the
essential tools of public health law that may be needed in response to
national public health emergencies. However, CDC’s proposed
regulations also raise concerns about government accountability,
personal liberty, individual due process, health information privacy,
and consistency with international health regulations. In addressing
these issues, the Center’s comments,
also available through CDC’s
Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, argue
that while the government must possess the ability to conduct
surveillance, case contact investigations, and issue orders for
isolation or quarantine, such power must be carefully limited based on
a careful balance between individual and communal interests, and the
relationship between domestic and international law.


Checklists on Legal Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies

Together with colleagues at CDC’s Public Health Law Program, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
[ASTHO], and the National Association of City and County Health
Officials [NACCHO], the Centers developed
checklists [as of December, 2004] on three major topics as follows:

legal coordination for public health emergency preparedness

government public health emergency legal preparedness and response

legal liability issues and public health emergencies

An informative, one-page Fact Sheet
about these checklists is also available. These checklists are intended
for voluntary use by county, city, state, and federal public health
agencies in assessing their legal preparedness for public health
emergencies. Each checklist includes opening commentary on the
background, methods, organization, and suggested uses for each
document, and features two principal sections: (1) A “Quick
Reference,” that lists the checklist’s questions;
and (2) the detailed checklist with an introduction and explanatory
comments or suggestions provided for each question. Content is
macro-organized according to the four phases of incident management
addressed in the National Response Plan: Prevention, Preparedness,
Response, and Recovery.


Bioterrorism Legal Workshop

On December 11, 2002, CDC’s PHLP, ASTHO, and NACCHO sponsored
a workshop on selected legal and policy issues related to public health
legal preparedness for bioterrorism. The Centers
hosted this event at Georgetown University Law Center.

The workshop was designed for peer-to-peer consultation and
technical assistance on issues central to the legal preparedness of the
Nation’s public health system for bioterrorism and emerging disease
threats. A primary goal was to generate and exchange information that
states, localities, tribes, and territories can use to address the
legal preparedness goals of the CDC grant program for public health
preparedness and response for bioterrorism.

Consistent with the Workshop
, Centers personnel and other
colleagues provided below some informative, follow-up information as
referenced below:

Informative memos prepared by Centers colleagues: