Although organizations do not 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.
A free online course from the University of Washington School of Public Health’s Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) provides an overview of legal issues to consider when planning and delivering public health or healthcare services in large-scale emergencies.
The course covers topics such as legal authority for responding to public health emergencies, legal responsibilities and risks during declared emergencies, and legal questions related to the use of volunteers during emergencies. Through these topics, the course explores how public health law must balance individual freedoms with the goal safeguarding public health.
Legal Aspects of Public Health Emergency Preparedness is aimed at public health practitioners from different states who work in or with emergency preparedness programs, and the attorneys who work with them.
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. The course is part of a series of courses and resources funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support public health law training.