This article reports on a surge in demand and scarcity of supply for dialysis machines in New York hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
Most scarce resource allocation concerns regarding COVID-19 to date have focused on ventilators due to the significant respiratory effects of the disease. However, ICUs are reporting that many COVID-19 patients are developing acute kidney injury. The kidney problems are being reported in patients without advanced diabetes or chronic renal conditions, and the trend was not anticipated based on outbreaks in Asia and Europe.
New York hospitals are reporting a shortage of both ICU dialysis machines and specialized dialysis nurses. At least one hospital has reportedly had to split dialysis machine access, giving 2 patients each 12 hours of treatment rather than 24-hour care typical of ICU dialysis.
Should rationing be required for ventilators due to scarcity, this may raise questions about whether other scarce resources, such as dialysis machines, should be allocated to patients who are not improving.