From the Sacramento Bee:
Older, sicker patients could be allowed to die in order to save the lives of patients more likely to survive a massive disaster, bioterror attack or influenza pandemic in California.
It’s not how nurses and doctors are accustomed to doing things, nor how Californians expect to be treated. But it is part of a sweeping statewide plan being praised for its breadth, even as it rankles providers who will have to carry it out.
The new “surge capacity guidelines” released by the state Department of Public Health, depict a post-disaster health care environment that looks and feels nothing like the system most Californians depend on.
It provides for scenarios in which patients could be herded into school gymnasiums for life-saving care or animal doctors could stitch up the human wounded and set their broken bones.
The 1,900-page document lays the practical – and ethical – groundwork for local and county health departments, hospitals, emergency responders and any able-bodied health care worker likely to be called upon in a catastrophe.
Striking in its specificity and its frank focus on the need to suspend or flex established laws and to ration health care, the plan is being hailed as a model for the rest of the nation.
You really need to read the whole thing to get a sense of how the plan would simultaneously limit patient protections and provide freer access to care.
Cross-posted at The Gimp Parade