How will Overloaded Hospitals Determine who should be Treated first?

A nurse with asthma, a cancer mother, and a homeless man with no known relatives are wracked with fevers caused by coronavirus. They are unable to breathe and they could save their lives by a ventilator. But who does get one when it’s not enough to go around?

Health care workers are dreading the prospect of such dire scenarios as U.S. hospitals brace for a looming surge in patients who need breathing machines and other resources that could soon be in critically short supply.

This has meant dusting off playbooks that they have never had to enforce during an emergency on how to reasonably ration scarce resources.
“I pray for their good judgment and their capacity as they make very difficult choices,” said Erik Curren, whose 77-year-old father died this month from respiratory complications related to the virus after becoming infected at an assisted living home in Florida.

As many as 900,000 coronavirus patients in the U.S. could need the machines during the outbreak, according to the Society for Critical Care Medicine. Yet the group estimates the country has only 200,000, many of which already are being used by other patients.

In New York, the U.S. epicenter of the outbreak, one city hospital has already logged 13 coronavirus deaths in a single day and officials are setting up hundreds of hospital beds in a sprawling convention center as cases climbed past 30,000 in the city.

In France and Spain, hospital and nursing officials say nursing home residents who come down with symptoms of coronavirus are not necessarily admitted to intensive care.

In northern Italy, Dr. Luca Lorini at the Pope John XXIII hospital in hard-hit Bergamo, compared how patients are being triaged to people waiting for an organ transplant.

”One heart and 10 people who are waiting for a heart transplant. Who gets the heart? The one who has the greatest chance of living better and longer with that heart,” he said.

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Vancho Gjorgjiev is a team member of Meddy Bear since 2015. V.Gjorgjiev is managing the social media pages and he is the author of the Meddy Bear articles posted on the website. You can find out more about Vancho on www.gorgiev.com.