The question today is a sticky one that actually may have a chance of being a reality. Not only could this become real if we had a large-scale flu outbreak but it is also timely with the health care debate going on.
The article is lengthy but is a good read.
Florida plan advises hospitals to bar some patients in event of severe flu pandemic
Florida health officials are drawing up guidelines that recommend barring patients with incurable cancer, end-stage multiple sclerosis and other conditions from being admitted to hospitals if the state is overwhelmed by flu cases.
The plan, which would guide Florida hospitals on how to ration scarce medical care during a severe flu outbreak, also calls for doctors to remove patients with poor prognoses from ventilators to treat those who have better chances of surviving. That decision would be made by the hospital.
The flu causes severe respiratory illnesses in a small percentage of cases, and patients who need ventilators and are deprived of them could die without the breathing assistance the machines provide.
So, if we have a flu pandemic we may have to make some hard decisions.
Further , if we have some of the more outlandish portions of Obamacare enacted, the decisions may be made for us.
Finally there is one more scenario that may be even more likely than the above two. What will happen if we pass a health care reform bill that limits care for chronic illnesses and we have an outbreak? We may have a scenario in which we have an already stretched health care system trying to cope with an epidemic.
What do you think about this?
Are we heading towards a health care system in which we will have to pick and choose who gets to live?
Do you think we should withdraw limited health care resource from someone with a poor chance of improvement to use it on a person with a better potential of recovery? Does your answer change if one of the patients is a loved one?
Who should make these decisions? Health care practitioners, family, the government? I realize that is kind of a silly question but it has real applications in life.
Can we let families decide? They can't make a unbiased unemotional decisions about a loved one's care. They can't see the "bigger picture".
Do we trust health care practitioners to make the best decisions? They can look at it from a medical standpoint. They have the information on which patient would do better and the knowledge to interpret the information but do not always see the person behind the decision (the patient that is effected).
Can we trust the government? They are a disinterested third party with nothing to gain or lose from the situation other than maybe less long term cost but they are too disinterested and, quite frankly, prone to screw things up.
So tell me your thoughts on this.