Safe Water Access and the Roles of Clinicians

Ongoing since 2014, the Flint, Michigan, water crisis was declared a federal emergency after an interdisciplinary team, led by a local pediatrician, linked pediatric blood lead levels to elevated lead levels in the water. This public health disaster illuminates questions about the nature and scope of clinicians’ obligations to identify, assess, and respond to patients’ and communities’ health risks from harmful microbial and chemical levels in their water supply. Clinicians should be trained to recognize symptoms of contaminated water use, but how should they be trained to help prevent contamination and execute other public health duties? The October 2017 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics explores clinicians’ roles in defining and enforcing the parameters of what constitutes “safe” water and in addressing barriers to safe water access.

Volume 19, Number 10: 955-1057 Full Issue PDF