Ventilator shortage during coronavirus crisis forcing doctors to decide who lives or dies

April 2, 2020 / By Hollie McKay | Fox News

It’s the most heartwrenching decision any medical professional on the front lines could make: deciding who to save and who to let die.

As coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, attacks across the globe – amid a vast shortage of life-saving devices – it’s a decision more and more doctors every day are being forced to wrestle with, and that could increase if the rationing of ventilators becomes unavoidable.

“Doctors have always exercised some sort of deliberation upon whether medical resources can be beneficial for patients, (and) whether patients can become better through the use of a ventilator,” Dr. Holly Wilson, a professor at Louisiana State University Online who specializes in bioethics and medical ethics, told Fox News. “Sometimes, doctors have to consider a medical intervention to be medically futile. It is at that point that the hospital ethics committee steps in and helps make the decision because often the family or surrogate does not agree.”

But amid this pandemic, the surrogate and family are often not able to stand by during their loved one’s dying days.

“And for that reason, even more, a triage committee or an ethics committee should be involved,” Wilson observed. “Doctors should not be overly stressed by having to make a decision that could mean the death of a patient.”


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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Surgio Health as well as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust Purchasing Group (HPG).

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