Review: U.K. backs off medical rationing plan as coronavirus rages

Review: U.K. backs off medical rationing plan as coronavirus rages

According to this article U.K. health officials have decided not to release triage criteria for allocating scarce resources in response to COVID-19, even though the guidance had already been drafted and other pandemic response guidelines that include rationing scarce resources already exist.

Rationing care based on cost-effectiveness and other factors is typically explicit within the British National Health System (NHS). For example, in recommending new treatments, the National Institute for Health and Care and Excellence (NICE) currently uses a threshold of £30,000 (approximately $37,000USD) per quality adjusted life year (QALY) saved. While this is not the sole determinant, treatments over this threshold are less likely to be recommended for use in the NHS.

NICE recently advised that ventilator access should be determined in part by a numerical score known as Clinical Frailty Rating, but revised its recommendations based on objections from patient advocates concerned about applications to persons with disabilities. The British Medical Association also released general allocation guidelines (as detailed in another post). Additionally, the Department of Health issued pandemic guidelines in 2011, but they do not directly address how to make specific triage decisions for allocating scarce resources.

As detailed in the article, ethical and legal experts are concerned that the absence of a clear governing standard may result in inconsistent approaches among hospitals or among front-line providers, which could disadvantage persons with disabilities, persons with fewer resources, or older persons, among other vulnerable groups.

|2020-04-07T07:35:22-04:00April 6th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Review: U.K. backs off medical rationing plan as coronavirus rages

About the Author: Daniel Orenstein

Daniel Orenstein
Daniel G. Orenstein, JD, MPH, is Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis. He teaches in the areas of administrative law, public health law, and health care law and policy. His research focuses on public health law, policy, and ethics, and he was previously Deputy Director of the Network for Public Health Law Western Region, where much of his work centered on emergency preparedness and response, including resource allocation and government authority during declared emergencies, as well as vaccination policy.

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