As hospitals across the country face shortages of personal protective equipment due to surges of coronavirus patients, health care professionals are reportedly privately discussing the possibility of a blanket do-not-resuscitate policy for infected patients to mitigate the risks for those responding to a code blue.
“If we risk their well-being in service of one patient, we detract from the care of future patients, which is unfair,” bioethicist Scott Halpern at the University of Pennsylvania wrote in a circulated model guideline, according to The Washington Post. Still, he said a blanket do-not-resuscitate policy for all COVID-19 patients is too ”draconian.”
He suggested the patient’s doctor and another should sign off on case-by-case do-not-resuscitate orders for coronavirus patients, giving the reason to the family – although they don’t have to agree with it.
Richard Wunderink, an intensive-care medical director at Northwestern, said that many families are choosing to sign DNRs when hospital staff explain that having to put on protective gear before tending to a “coding” patient decreases the chance of saving their life.