Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Who do you let die?

Interesting article on Yahoo Answers.

Who should MDs let die in a pandemic? Report offers answers

By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer Mon May 5, 12:14 AM ET

Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won't get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding who to let die.

Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn't be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.

The suggested list was compiled by a task force whose members come from prestigious universities, medical groups, the military and government agencies. They include the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The proposed guidelines are designed to be a blueprint for hospitals "so that everybody will be thinking in the same way" when pandemic flu or another widespread health care disaster hits, said Dr. Asha Devereaux. She is a critical care specialist in San Diego and lead writer of the task force report.

The idea is to try to make sure that scarce resources — including ventilators, medicine and doctors and nurses — are used in a uniform, objective way, task force members said.

Now. That's quite a thing. We've known for ages that there are systems of selection in medical environments and situations. I suppose just a little scary to see it in print.

Article goes on to say...

_People older than 85.

_Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.

_Severely burned patients older than 60.

_Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.

_Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes.


... as examples of how detailed this report gets.

What do YOU think?

There are too many humans. Perhaps life isn't quite as sacrosanct as before...

5 comments:

Dionne said...

In that case, most of my patients would be left to die. We are dealing with a pandemic on a daily basis...

Andy Hadfield said...

Where do you work Dionne? Sounds interesting...

Dragonfly said...

That is triaging I guess. Hopefully this does not come to pass...though somewhere it no doubt will, and does already in countries that already lack medical resources.

Andy Hadfield said...

I think many South African doctors would argue they've been doing this forever. It's called Saturday night in trauma...

phorun said...

It seems quite utilitarian- a sort of enforced survival-of-the-fittest. Will there be allowances for exceptions, or is the rule the rule?