UK doctors may be forced to use triage rules to decide who gets ventilators should the COVID-19 worsen according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
This suggestion to use triage strategies comes after the UK experienced its highest number of COVID-19 deaths of 563 in a single day on Wednesday since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This now brings the total number of deaths up to 2,352.
The BMA warned that due to the shortage of critical resources such as ventilators, doctors will have to make life or death choices on who receives treatment “which mean some patients may be denied intensive forms of treatment that they would have received outside a pandemic”.
The document went on to further suggest that:
“Health professionals may be obliged to withdraw treatment from some patients to enable treatment of other patients with a higher survival probability,”
“This may involve withdrawing treatment from an individual who is stable or even improving but whose objective assessment indicates a worse prognosis than another patient who requires the same resource.”
Although this decision may spark public outcry, BMA chairman Dr John Chisholm added that NHS workers may not be left with no other choice if hospitals became overwhelmed with patients.
He went on to further state:
“Looking ahead to the coming weeks, if hard choices are required, we know they will be contested. There will be anger and pain.”
“People who, in normal circumstances, would receive strenuous treatment may instead be given palliation in order to favour those with greater likelihood of benefiting.”
“Nobody wants to make these decisions, but if resources are overwhelmed, these decisions must be made.”
This comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that testing for coronavirus infections was in need of a “massively ramp up” after the sudden spike in cases across the UK.