Review: Who gets a ventilator? New gut-wrenching state guidelines issued on rationing equipment

This article reports on new guidelines from Massachusetts health officials for potential rationing of ventilators in the event COVID-19 case surge overwhelms available supply.

According to the article, the guidance uses an 8-point scoring system based on a patient’s likelihood of surviving to discharge and likelihood of long-term survival. The system also that gives preference to medical personnel, women further along in pregnancy, and younger patients (when scores are otherwise equal).

The guidelines are based on those developed at the University of Pittsburgh and adopted by Pennsylvania. The guidelines are advisory and not mandatory, and some hospital systems have developed their own policies, some of which are consistent with the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania guidelines and others which differ on certain points, such as priority for health care personnel or consideration of long-term survival.

Some state rationing plans, including Pennsylvania’s, have been subject to civil rights complaints from advocates for persons with disabilities, who argue the plans illegally disadvantage persons with pre-existing disabilities based on biased assessments and generalizations about life expectancy or quality of life of persons with disabilities.

|2020-04-09T08:54:07-04:00April 8th, 2020|COVID-19 Literature|Comments Off on Review: Who gets a ventilator? New gut-wrenching state guidelines issued on rationing equipment

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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