This article reports on the release of New Jersey’s Department of Health guidance for allocating scarce critical care resources if necessary during a public health emergency.
The state guidance applies only when the supply of available resources is entirely exhausted, including applicable modification of other resources, for example the use of BiPAP and anesthesia machines to supplement ventilator supply. Resources will be allocated using an individualized patient assessment completed by acute care triage teams. These teams should be created by hospitals to include at least one physician, nurse, and administrator and should be separate from patients’ bedside care team.
Patients will be assessed on an 8-point scale based on likelihood of survival with intervention with the goals of saving the most lives and saving the most life-years. Among patients who score similarly priority will be given to younger patients and to health care workers and essential hospital staff, with further ties decided using a lottery system. The approach avoids the use of categorical exclusion criteria and is largely based on an influential policy adopted by the University of Pittsburgh.
Additionally, per a statewide executive directive, if a facility adopts the Department of Health’s model policy, the facility and its staff will be immune from civil liability for any acts or omissions that are pursuant to and consistent with the policy.
The full state guidance document is available here.