Hospitals are considering a universal ‘do not resuscitate’ order for all coronavirus patients, according to Washington Post.
They are allegedly engaged in a heavy debate as to how to weigh the “save at all costs” approach to resuscitating a dying patient against the real danger of exposing doctors and nurses to the contagion of coronavirus.
The supply of protective equipment is dwindling and staff is at risk. They believe it might justify the usual response to attempting to bring back patients who code.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago has been discussing a do-not-resuscitate policy for infected patients, regardless of the wishes of the patient or their family.
George Washington University Hospital has had similar conversations.
Several large hospital systems — Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Geisinger in Pennsylvania and regional Kaiser Permanente networks — are looking at guidelines that would allow doctors to override the wishes of the coronavirus patient or family members on a case-by-case basis due to the risk to doctors and nurses, or a shortage of protective equipment, say ethicists and doctors involved in those conversations.
Procedures that resuscitate patients send virus-laced droplets around the room. It’s “anxiety-provoking,” the article states.
These include endoscopies, bronchoscopies and other procedures in which tubes or cameras are sent down the throat and are routine in ICUs to look for bleeds or examine the inside of the lungs.
Changing or eliminating those protocols is likely to decrease some patients’ chances of survival. But hospital administrators and doctors say the measures are necessary to save the most lives.