Physicians are instrumental to our national defense against epidemics, whether natural or bioterror-related. Broadly speaking, they are obligated to help rapidly identify threats, prevent the spread of disease, and care for infected patients. Each task presents ethical challenges, including the need to address access to care, balance the medical needs of individuals and communities, and ensure that health professionals continue to treat infectious patients in spite of the risk they present. If physicians can acknowledge these duties and meet these challenges, they have an opportunity to strengthen medicine's public trust and professional identity. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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