Thursday, September 24, 2009

Flu Nightmare: Officials ponder extreme triage measures UPDATED


Thanks to Edger at Antimedius for bringing this news to our attention. (Today's post can also be read at The Peace Tree.)

Sheri Fink recently wrote an in-depth article about post-Katrina deaths at Memorial Medical Center. Now she - pardon the pun - ventilates proposed shocking plans in ProPublica, September 23, 2009 (view source). Oh my, talk about government death panels... during a severe flu pandemic, a family's advance directive plans ensuring their loved ones' end of life and other critical healthcare decisions will not be honored [my emphasis in bold]:

With scant public input, state and federal officials are pushing ahead with plans that -- during a severe flu outbreak -- would deny use of scarce ventilators by some patients to assure they would be available for patients judged to benefit the most from them.

The plans have been drawn up to give doctors specific guidelines for extreme circumstances, and they include procedures under which patients who weren’t improving would be removed from life support with or without permission of their families.

The plans … more


This morning I spoke with a person in the Advance Directives section at the Vermont Department of Health. Here's the current Vermont Statute about them. She was unaware of this story and was understandably perplexed by it (I sent her the link.) She promised to get back to me about the VT DoH's stance. Developing...

1 comment:

  1. Anon 1:

    This is a problem discussed within the medical, public health and ethics communities for the past decade. The problem is that there is no win-win approach. It's all lose-lose. Imagine the problem for the ER doc treating a 30 year old single parent of 4 children requiring use of the hospital's only ventilator, currently used by a 85 years old patient with severe Alzheimer's. If one is a utilitarian, then the solution is obvious, but otherwise, it becomes very difficult. Not everyone is a utilitarian, and whether that philosophy accords with the ethical underpinnings of our society anymore is high debatable all by itself. That the material in the debates is going to be condensed by a news reporter into a few articles is itself laughable. However, this is a matter requiring urgent debate, as there is every likelihood it will move from being a hypothetical situation to reality within the next several months. At that point, what is the ER doc supposed to do?


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