Explore environmental and occupational health topics from a bioethics perspective in new course

New course being offered this fall, Thursdays, 2:30-3:45 p.m. for 1.5 credits: BETH 350/450 Bioethics in Environmental and Occupational Health taught by Kathleen Fagin, MD, MPH, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics, board certified occupational medicine physician and a former medical officer at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Monica Gerrek, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Bioethics and co-director of MetroHealth’s Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Course Description: Environmental health threats affect every person and every living thing on this planet. The ethical issues and decisions confronting not only governments, but also public health departments, healthcare providers, and every one of us are countless.

Occupational health is a subset of environmental health. Occupational health professionals care for workers with work-related injuries and illnesses and consult on safety and health issues with employers. In occupational health practice, ethical issues arise daily.

The types of questions this course will address are: How should states that depend on the Colorado River for water apportion rapidly falling water supplies? How do public health departments plan for extreme weather and natural disasters? How do healthcare providers decide to triage patients in overflowing emergency departments and intensive care units during pandemics? How do community health care providers advise their patients when the community experiences an environmental disaster, such as the East Palestine train derailment? How do health care providers who work for a company manage their loyalty to their company and to their patients, the company’s workforce? Do these providers have the same obligations to their patients that other health care providers have? What rules and regulations do and should apply to onsite work clinics? What ethical obligations do companies have to environmental health, to those who live in proximity to their plants, and to the health of their workers?