Are we playing at being God when we are forced to choose who gets the single remaining ventilator? When we decide to withdraw care in order to free up scarce resources?
Who will be there to pick up the pieces for these physicians who are making these decisions that no human was meant to face?
So, we create recommendations and positions for people who aren’t involved in direct patient care to decide. It makes it less emotional. We distance ourselves from the humanity of it all to protect ourselves from the trauma.
I have to wonder though…
Do the algorithms and guidelines consider things like unconscious bias when they ask us to decide who will be more likely to survive if a treatment was allocated to them?
They say that the triage protocols are being developed using population data based on several social determinants of health. Consider if you had asthma because your childhood home had mold. Or that your hemoglobin A1c is off the charts because your only access to groceries is the local convenience store. Will these metrics decide that you don’t get the ventilator because your survivability is lower compared to the person who has grown up in a safe, stable household?
What about decades of institutionalized racism? Do the flow sheets account for the reason why a disproportionate number of African American and Hispanic individuals have co-morbidities because of a society that undermines and diminishes their rights as humans?
**this post was originally written on 4/5/2020