Italian coronavirus patients aged over 80 to be “denied access to intensive care” if the crisis worsens, an emergency plan being proposed in Turin has revealed.
According to TheTelegraph, the unit has drawn up a protocol that will determine which patients receive treatment in intensive care and which do not if there are insufficient spaces.
This is just as doctors are concerned that this possibility can lead to some patients being “left to die.”
“[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient’s] health conditions. This is how it is in a war,” a doctor said.
Among other criteria to be considered apart from age are the patient’s health condition and their ability to recover from resuscitation.
“The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity Index [which indicates how many other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5,” the document read.
“The growth of the current epidemic makes it likely that a point of imbalance between the clinical needs of patients with COVID-19 and the effective availability of intensive resources will be reached.
“Should it become impossible to provide all patients with intensive care services, it will be necessary to apply criteria for access to intensive treatment, which depends on the limited resources available.
“The criteria set out guidelines if the situation becomes of such an exceptional nature as to make the therapeutic choices on the individual case dependent on the availability of resources, forcing [hospitals] to focus on those cases in which the cost/benefit ratio is more favorable for clinical treatment.”
Luigi Icardi, a councilor for health in Piedmont, also spoke about the new development.
“I never wanted to see such a moment. It [the document] will be binding and will establish in the event of saturation of the wards a precedence code for access to intensive care, based on certain parameters such as potential survival,” he said.
About 1,809 have died of the virus in Italy alone while the number of positive cases has so far risen to 24,747. But the country is said to currently have only 5,090 intensive care beds.
“We aim to delay as long as possible the use of these criteria. At the moment there are still intensive care places available and we are working to create more,” a source was quoted to have said.
“We want to arrive as late as possible at the point where we have to decide who lives and who dies. The criteria relate only to access to intensive care.
“Those who do not get access to intensive care will still receive all the treatment possible.
“In medicine, we sometimes have to make difficult choices but it’s important to have a system about how to make them.”
Since its outbreak in China in December, the virus has killed close to 6,000 persons, with at least 140,000 infected across more than 100 countries.
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