Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Elderly, Sick, Demented To Be Left To Die During Pandemic

The list of people who will be denied medical care during a full blown bird flu pandemic is long, and varied. The potential of a purposeful culling by care denial of the elderly and sick by regimes around the world is huge, and troubling.

From Raw Story :

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 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.

To prepare, hospitals should designate a triage team with the Godlike task of deciding who will and who won't get lifesaving care, the task force wrote. Those out of luck are the people at high risk of death and a slim chance of long-term survival. But the recommendations get much more specific, and include:

  • 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.

If followed to a tee, such rules could exclude care for the poorest, most disadvantaged citizens who suffer disproportionately from chronic disease and disability...

The list of those who would be denied medical care, due to rationing, is very similar to lists drawn up by countries like Australia, the UK and a number of South East Asian countries. The World Health Organisation is expected to endorse such a list in its pandemic preparatory literature and guidelines.