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null Ethics key in public health emergencies concludes European medical support platform PULSE

The PULSE (Platform for European Medical Support during major emergencies) was finalised by European researchers in October 2016. The purpose of the platform is to help health services allocate scarce medical resources in the event of a pandemic, a stadium crush or other event that strains the resources of hospitals.
PULSE logo
Health service stakeholders (ambulance personnel, hospitals and national agencies) can use it to share vital information such as whether they have any spare beds, doctors, nurses and other paramedics, or adequate medical supplies when one or more hospitals experience an overflow of patients in a major medical crisis.

Ethical impact assessment 

The PULSE project partners (led by Trilateral Research) conducted an ethical impact assessment to investigate and monitor the ethical, legal, and societal issues related to public health emergencies, and specifically in relation to the PULSE platform. The Ethical Review Committee comprised three external, independent experts from the Complutense University of Madrid, the University of Twente (NL) and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland).
The project concluded with several ethics-related recommendations to be considered by actors involved in public health emergency management. One of them was addressed to designers and developers of public health emergency systems who should conduct an ethical impact assessment in consultation with relevant stakeholders. They should particularly review and improve (as technology and implementation progresses) the security and integrity of their systems, and protect them against internal compromises and external attacks by using strong encryption and optimising access controls.

More information

The platform was developed by the PULSE consortium, led by the Irish company Skytek Ltd, and funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme. The other partners in the consortium included Trilateral Research Ltd. (UK), Finmeccanica (Italy), the Universita Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Rome (Italy), Onest Solutions (Romania), CESS GmbH (Germany), and the Health Service Executive (Ireland).