Legal Aspects of Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Legal & Ethical
Online Course
1.5 hours
University of Washington
Northwest PERLC
Introduction to Public Health Preparedness and Response
Public Health Agency Management during Emergencies
Information Sharing

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Public health law, whether in an emergency or in routine situations, is a balancing act between keeping the public healthy and protecting individual freedoms. Although we don’t always think about it ahead of time, emergencies create unique legal circumstances for public health agencies and their staff. During emergencies, public health agencies need to know what powers public health officials will have, when they can request assistance from other jurisdictions, and how they will handle volunteers. This online course is intended as an overview which addresses, and raises questions to consider in the planning and delivery of public health or healthcare services in large scale emergencies, across different jurisdictions. The content for this course was developed in partnership with the Network for Public Health Law Western Region Office at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University. It is part of a series of courses and resources funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support public health law training.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Identify key features of legal authority at different levels of government for responding to public health emergencies
  • Describe potential or actual legal powers, responsibilities, and risks during declared emergencies
  • Describe legal questions relating to the use of medical or public health volunteers during emergencies
PHEP Capabilities: 
Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions