Health

Doctors Worry They May Have to Begin Rationing Care During Pandemic as Hospitalizations Spike

With the U.S. experiencing record levels of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus pandemic, health care experts are pondering whether to ration medical supplies and personnel to meet the demand.

The Covid Tracking Project reported 121,235 coronavirus hospital patients Monday — the highest number since the onset of the pandemic earlier this year, CNN reported. The number of ICU coronavirus patients has increased from 16 percent in September to 40 percent last week and health experts fear those numbers could significantly worsen amid holiday travel.

“When you run out of capacity, physicians and bioethicists in these hospitals will need to decide which patients are salvageable — potentially salvageable—and which patients aren’t,” said Dr. Jonathan Reiner, a CNN medical analyst.

The increase in hospitalizations has some hospital leaders considering drastic measures such as rationing care.

“We use what in the battlefield is called triage techniques, which is doing an assessment of each person’s needs and prognosis and using scarce resources with patients that are most likely to benefit from them,” Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Los Angeles’ Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, told CNN Monday.

As of Tuesday, the U.S. has roughly 19.3 million coronavirus cases and 336,000 related deaths — both tops globally — according to a Johns Hopkins University tracker.

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