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Doctors explain what rationed care would look like

“The individual with the greatest chance of survival and years of survival is allocated the resource.”
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 4:51 PM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) -Idaho hospitals could soon start rationing care to patients if the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen in the state.

Hospitals could have to start rationing care in two to three months if people don’t start taking COVID-19 seriously, officials say, and do their part in wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands.

Doctors and hospital officials expect the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients to double by Christmas and triple in the next two months.

It’s at that point they would have to start really rationing care.

Dr. Jim Souza, the vice president and chief medical officer for St. Luke’s Health System, explained during a virtual news conference with the media on Tuesday along with other health care providers, what that would look like in-person. It would start with an assessment of the patient to determine whether or not they qualify for critical care.

If they do, they’re treated, and then assessed again, and compared to other patients who might need the bed.

“The individual with the greatest chance of survival and years of survival is allocated the resource,” Souza stated. “And I think we’re all coming to the conclusion that for most of us, it wont be supplies that limit this, it wont be like number of ventilators, it’s going to be staffed beds.”

These guidelines come from the state’s crisis standards of care. They’d collaborate with others across the region, then apply those guidelines with triage teams.

This would also effect response times from first responders, said Dr. Steven Nemerson, the chief clinical officer for Saint Alphonsus Health System.

“And they may need to make decisions who they actually code, who they actually resuscitate on scene,” Nemerson said. “Because they may or may not have a place to take the patient to if the emergency room is completely full and overflowing. Assuming the patient can come to the emergency department, then we would be in a situation where we can’t get patients into regular beds with the same timeliness that we’re able to.”

If the patient does make it to the hospital, doctors would then have to decide if they receive resuscitative care, and if they do, they follow those crisis standards of care, as explained by Souza.

The doctors clarified that this is simply a worse-case scenario if things don’t change and soon.

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