Rationing Care

Activity Overview

This course provides an overview of how clinicians and policymakers have approached the rationing of health care resources, as well as an ethical framework that can inform present and future rationing and resource allocation decisions. During the course, we delineate a system for ethically allocating resources based on 4 principles: 

  • Treating people equally. 
  • Favoring the worst off. 
  • Maximizing total benefits. 
  • Promoting and rewarding social usefulness. 

We apply that system to the case of vaccine allocation during a flu pandemic. And we explore the implications of that system for more general resource allocation questions like prioritizing the provision of high-value care. 

This activity is co-provided by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Medicine Nursing.

Penn Med logo

Target Audience

Clinicians, administrators, and policymakers planning for rationing during COVID-19 and preparing for future scenarios that require the allocation of scarce resources. 

Educational Objectives

 After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Define rationing and resource allocation in a health care context. 
  • Identify and evaluate principles underlying health care rationing decisions. 
  • Explain the Complete Lives System for making rationing and decisions. 
  • Explain how the Complete Lives System can be applied to health care policy decisions.

Successful completion of this educational activity and receipt of certificate of credit includes achieving a minimum score of 88% on the 1 quiz. 

Credit Information

Release Date: June 4, 2020

Expiration Date: February 29, 2024

Amount of CME credit: 2.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™

Amount of Nursing Contact Hours: 2.0 NCPD hours

Estimated Length of Time for Completion: 2 hours

Register: Credit           Register: noncredit


Accreditation and Designation of Credit


In support of improving patient care, Penn Medicine is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.


The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

Penn Medicine designates this enduring material for a maximum of 2.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity


Penn Medicine Nursing is an approved provider of continuing nursing education by the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.  Approval # 124-3-H-15.

Penn Medicine Nursing awards this activity 2.0 NCPD hours.

Physician Assistants

AAPA accepts certificates of participation for educational activities certified for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by ACCME or a recognized state medical society.

PAs may receive a maximum of 2.0 Category 1 credits for completing this activity.


The planning committee members have disclosed that they have no relevant financial relationships with any commercial interests related to the content of this educational activity:

  • Holly Fernandez Lynch, JD, MBe 
  • Steven Joffe, MD, MPH 
  • Connie Ulrich, PhD, MSN 
  • Adam Zolkover, MA 
  • Laura C. Hart, MFA 

The faculty involved with this activity have reported that their presentations contain no mention of investigational and/or off-label use of products.

Acknowledgment of Commercial Support

There was no commercial support used in the development of this educational activity.


For questions related to this educational activity, contact Penn Medicine Continuing Medical and Interprofessional Education at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania at penncme@pennmedicine.upenn.edu or at 215-898-8005.

If you have questions, please contact Caitlin O'Neill, Program Manager for Online Educational Initiatives, at 215-746-3971 or MEHPonline@pennmedicine.upenn.edu.