BOSTON (WHDH) - Doctors and nurses across the country may soon have to turn to a point system to decide who lives and who dies.
Director of the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Robert Truog said he is endorsing the system and wants Massachusetts physicians to prepare for what may become inevitable.
When the novel coronavirus takes hold in the lungs, ventilators are required to take over the patients’ breathing. Without these life-saving machines, the prognosis is grim.
Pictures from inside New York Hospitals show patients hooked up to the only machines keeping them alive.
This scene is hardly unique, hospitals across the country are struggling to keep up with the influx of patients forcing some medical professionals to make difficult decisions.
According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Truog recommends the use of a specific point system in the event a doctor must choose who gets a ventilator and who does not.
“Hospitals are developing these policies. I worked all weekend on helping out a number of them. Many hospitals have them in place,” he explained. “These are life and death decisions and it’ll cause a tremendous amount of suffering if we get there.”
The system calculates a patient’s likelihood of benefitting from intensive care.
Elderly patients diagnosed with cancer, COPD, diabetes, chronic lung issues or a terminal illness would be eligible for care but score lower than those who are otherwise healthy.
“Everybody is eligible, but beyond that point then it comes down to giving it to those people where we’re either going to save the most number of lives or the number of life years,” Truog said. “And yes, it does mean that people with other severe illnesses will receive a lower priority score.”
This point system could go into effect sooner rather than later in some hot-spot cities.
Officials in New York say they only have enough ventilators to get them through the next few days.
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