Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who gets treated first during a pandemic? ...by Sybil Sage

Individual doctors are to be given specific guidelines drafted by an influential group of physicians as to how they should prioritize which patients to treat first in the event of a pandemic or health crisis.

Doctors will no longer be expected to make these critical decisions independently. Heading the "don't bother with" list are the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with dementia, essentially people at high risk of death and low odds of long-term survival. Just how simple is it during a pandemic to distinguish between dementia and disturbed?

I'm not convinced doctors will adhere to the rules. I don't see a Klingenstein, however hopeless the prognosis, being turned away at the Mt. Sinai pavilion with that name.

In Hollywood you can be sure an award-winning director will get the pain medication ahead of a stagehand, forget who's in worse shape.

In Massachusetts an extemely sick Kennedy will not be pushed aside in favor of a less sick, not-so much a Kennedy.

In Northern California vegans and environmentalists will be put on the good gurneys. I'm not clear how it would break down between Google and Microsoft people.

In Vermont they'll play "rock, scissors, paper, match" if forced to figure out whom to treat first: Ben or Jerry.

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