As time continues to pass this virus is getting worse and more people are getting sick. This leading some hospitals to consider changing their policies in a way that is both controversial and heartbreaking.
According to CNN, some hospitals are considering making changes to policies that enact a DNR for people with the novel coronavirus. A DNR for those who do not know is a ‘do-not-resuscitate’ order. This basically means if they stop breathing or their heart stops beating the medical professionals they are in the care of will not perform CPR or do anything to get their hearts back going.
Dr. Deborah Birx who happens to be the ‘White house coronavirus response coordinator’ told CNN as follows on the topic:
“There is no situation in the United States right now that warrants that kind of discussion.”
“You can be thinking about in a hospital, certainly many hospitals talk about this on a daily basis, but to say that to the American people, to make the implication that when they need a hospital bed, it’s not gonna be there, or when they need that ventilator it’s not going to be there — we don’t have evidence of that right now.”
CNN also noted that some healthcare workers are worried about performing CPR on patients with COVID-19 as it further exposed them to the virus but at the moment with everything going on what needs to be done is being done. That having been said, patients are being talked to early on about what they would want to happen if they were to need to be brought back. In times like these, a lot of hard things are being brought to the table that we’re not yet sure how to handle.
The Washington Post reported as follows in regard:
Several large hospital systems — Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Geisinger in Pennsylvania and regional Kaiser Permanente networks — are looking at guidelines that would allow doctors to override the wishes of the coronavirus patient or family members on a case-by-case basis due to the risk to doctors and nurses, or a shortage of protective equipment, say ethicists and doctors involved in those conversations. But they would stop short of imposing a do-not-resuscitate order on every coronavirus patient. The companies declined to comment.
Lewis Kaplan, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and a University of Pennsylvania surgeon, described how colleagues at different institutions are sharing draft policies to address their changed reality.
“We are now on crisis footing,” he said. “What you take as first-come, first-served, no-holds-barred, everything-that-is-available-should-be-applied medicine is not where we are. We are now facing some difficult choices in how we apply medical resources — including staff.”
The new protocols are part of a larger rationing of lifesaving procedures and equipment — including ventilators — that is quickly becoming a reality here as in other parts of the world battling the virus. The concerns are not just about health-care workers getting sick but also about them potentially carrying the virus to other patients in the hospital.
R. Alta Charo, a University of Wisconsin-Madison bioethicist, said that while the idea of withholding treatments may be unsettling, especially in a country as wealthy as ours, it is pragmatic. “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 code process is one that puts them at an enhanced risk.”
What do you think about the potential of this kind of thing being in place? While there are lots of cases, everyone who is sick deserves to live their lives, right? That being said, at the moment there is nothing to fear as these policy changes have not yet happened. For more on this check out the video below.