Hospitals across the country are considering whether to enact universal “do-not-resuscitate” orders for coronavirus patients as the mounting pandemic threatens to overwhelm the health care system, according to a report.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago is among the hospitals where the drastic policy is under consideration — even when the move is against the wishes of a patient and their family, The Washington Post reported.
Richard Wunderink, one of Northwestern’s intensive-care medical directors, told the outlet the hospital is exploring whether state law would allow it to implement the policy, which would limit possible exposure to health care workers and maximize resources.
“It’s a major concern for everyone,” Wunderink said. “This is something about which we have had lots of communication with families, and I think they are very aware of the grave circumstances.”
These conversations come as hospitals face a surge in cases coupled with a shortage of life-saving ventilators and protective gear for staffers.
“We are now facing some difficult choices in how we apply medical resources — including staff,” Lewis Kaplan, president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine and a University of Pennsylvania surgeon, told the newspaper.
As many as 30 people may rush into a room to help a patient when a “code blue” alarm goes off, the newspaper reported.
“It’s extremely dangerous in terms of infection risk because it involves multiple bodily fluids,” an unidentified ICU doctor told the newspaper.
NYC Health and Hospitals, which oversees the the Big Apple’s 11 public hospitals, said it is not currently looking at across-the-board do not resuscitate orders.
“We’re doing everything we can for patients,” spokesman Christopher Miller told The Post.
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