May 5, 2008
Should doctors be allowed to play God?
In the case of a flu pandemic — yes, say government officials in a new report.
Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won’t get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding who to let die.
Who will die in the event of a pandemic? The very old, seriously hurt, severely burned and those with severe dementia, according to an influential group of physicians.
The group has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn’t be treated.
The suggested list was compiled by a task force whose members come from prestigious universities, medical groups, the military and government agencies. They include the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The proposed guidelines are designed to be a blueprint for hospitals “so that everybody will be thinking in the same way” when pandemic flu or another widespread health care disaster hits, said Dr. Asha Devereaux. She is a critical care specialist in San Diego and lead writer of the task force report.
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