Tags: Coronavirus | Health Topics | hospital | ventilator | dnr | ppe | pandemic

Hospitals Forced to Grapple With Life-and-Death Policies

a doctor stands before a empty hospital hall
(Peter Byrne/AP)

By    |   Friday, 27 March 2020 02:44 PM

A Michigan health system has circulated a hospital letter that detailed who would be able to receive life-saving resources and who would not during the pandemic if there is a shortage of equipment.

According to CNN, a spokesman for the Henry Ford Health System said "the letter is part of a larger policy document developed for the absolute worst-case scenario."

The letter, addressed to patients, families and the community, reads in part:

"Because of shortages, we will need to be careful with resources. Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority."

The letter goes on to explain, if patients who need a ventilator or ICU care do not get better over time, they might have these treatments stopped. People with severe heart, lung, kidney, or liver failure, severe burns or trauma, or terminal cancers will be ineligible for the treatments and will receive "pain control and comfort measures," reports CNN. 

USA Today reports, if measures to slow the pace of new infections and ease the demands on hospitals do not work, there might be a shortage of ventilators and more hospitals will have to institute such policies.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and chairman of the University of Pennsylvania's department of medical ethics and health policy tells USA Today that physicians might have to decide "who lives and who dies."

"It's horrible," he said. "It's the worst thing you can have to do."

Arthur Caplan, director of Medical Ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine tells CNN that many people might feel rationing is wrong.

"That ignores reality," he says. "If there are 10 people and 3 ventilators, a decision is going to be made. We are all together on the Titanic, and it's pretty clear that there aren't enough lifeboats, and there aren't enough life preservers."

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A Michigan health system has circulated a hospital letter that detailed who would be able to receive life-saving resources and who would not during the pandemic if there is a shortage of equipment. 
hospital, ventilator, dnr, ppe, pandemic
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2020-44-27
Friday, 27 March 2020 02:44 PM
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