This article reports on the absence of a state plan for allocating scarce resources during a public health emergency in Florida and the implications of a patchwork of approaches should rationing be necessary in response to COVID-19 case surge.
According to the article, Florida previously prepared state guidelines for response to a public health emergency, but the state abandoned the plans in 2011. A majority of states have such plans for crisis standards of care (CSC). Several have also updated or newly drafted such plans in response to COVID-19, but Florida appears not to be doing so. The article reports that the state’s health department provided several resources in response to a request, but that none addressed rationing or triage related to resource scarcity. The absence of a statewide plan has been criticized by advocates for disability rights and by retirement-advocacy group AARP, among others.
In the absence of an official state plan, the Florida Bioethics Network has produced a suggested CSC plan that has been endorsed by the Florida Hospital Association. Other Florida hospital systems are either reviewing these guidelines or completing their own plans. However, in the absence of a uniform standard, it is possible that substantially different policies may exist between hospitals and a person may be denied a resource they would have received at another nearby facility, potentially resulting in inefficient use of resources and unnecessary morbidity and mortality.