Hospitals across America could enact do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients even against family wishes – The Sun
HOSPITALS could enact a policy of not resuscitating some critically ill coronavirus patients even against family wishes, it was reported.
The warning comes as North Carolina is the latest state to declare a “major virus disaster”, meaning more than 140 million are now living in emergency zones and the death toll passes 1000.
Doctors and hospitals are bound by oath and in some cases the law to do everything to resuscitate patients.
But a lack of protective equipment means the risk of passing the disease to other staff and patients maybe too great, the Washington Post reports.
Many hospitals across America are now contemplating do-not-resuscitate policies in response.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago has been discussing enacting the policy, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family members.
Richard Wunderink, one its intensive care medical directors, said officials would have to ask Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for help in clarifying state law and whether it permits the policy shift.
“It’s a major concern for everyone,” he said.
“This is something about which we have had lots of communication with families, and I think they are very aware of the grave circumstances.”
Large hospital systems including Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Geisinger in Pennsylvania and regional Kaiser Permanente networks are reportedly looking at allowing doctors to override the wishes of patient or family on a case-by-case basis.
Seattle’s University of Washington Medical Center, in a hot spots for infections, is dealing with the problem by severely limiting the number of responders to a patient in cardiac or respiratory arrest.
Lewis Kaplan, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and a University of Pennsylvania surgeon said hospitals were on a “crisis footing”.
“What you take as first-come, first-served, no-holds-barred, everything-that-is-available-should-be-applied medicine is not where we are," he said.
“We are now facing some difficult choices in how we apply medical resources – including staff.”
Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin-Madison bioethicist, said withholding treatments it is pragmatic in the circumstances,
“It doesn’t help anybody if our doctors and nurses are felled by this virus and not able to care for us,” she said.
The George Washington University Hospital in DC says it has had discussions about not resuscitating.
But for it now will continue to resuscitate covid-19 patients using modified procedures, such as putting plastic sheeting over the patient to create a barrier.
“I don’t believe that is necessarily the right approach,” said Bruno Petinaux, chief medical officer
“So we have decided not to go in that direction. What we are doing is what can be done safely.”
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