U.S. and Canadian experts together have developed a model for managing critical-care resources during pandemic outbreaks or other major disasters. In their proposal, members of a 37-member task force on mass critical-care also suggest legal protections for clinicians who follow accepted protocols for allocating scarce resources when providing care during catastrophes. The task force represented military medicine, medical societies and institutions, and federal agencies such as HHS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If a mass-casualty critical event occurred tomorrow, many people with clinical conditions that are survivable under usual healthcare system circumstances may have to forgo life-sustaining interventions due to deficiencies in supply, staffing or space, said Asha Devereaux, a physician and task force member, in a news release. The framework appears as a supplement in the May issue of Chest, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.
Titled Definitive Care for the Critically Ill During a Disaster, the article offers guidance for hospitals, medical professionals and public-health authorities on how to prepare for essential critical care when the demand for those resources outweighs supply. -- by Jessica Zigmond