This essay from Joseph J. Fins, one of the authors of New York’s 2015 guidelines on ventilator allocation during a public health emergency, contends that the Task Force’s guidelines should not be interpreted to authorize the commandeering of ventilators used by chronic care patients in response to resource scarcity.
The author responds to questions and critiques of the 2015 guidelines and an earlier draft from 2009 that posed the question of whether chronic care patients’ ventilators would be removed and reallocation in the event crisis standards of care triage protocols were implemented. As the author notes, the final 2015 guidelines explicitly distinguish between acute care facilities and chronic care facilities regarding application of triage protocols. The author explains that, under the guidelines, a chronic care patient who is ventilator-dependent and arrives at an acute care facility will be treated the same as any other patient in terms of application of relevant allocation criteria. He further clarifies that, in his interpretation, this means that a chronic care patient may or may not be allocated a hospital ventilator (which are typically more sophisticated than those used in chronic care facilities), but would not be at risk of losing access to the chronic care ventilator the patient was already using.