Outfit Says to Rebuild the Model [PHIL-OSOPHY]
A group of healthcare workers supported by 250 doctors, nurses and professionals have sent Gov. Charlie Baker a letter saying the state guidelines suggesting how to ethically allocate limited resources, like ventilators, aren't acceptable.
They assert it discriminates against disadvantaged groups. The Boston Globe's story says the alliance wants the state's guiding principles changed. If you go back to my April 8 opinion piece, "Who Lives and Who Dies?" it will give you a basic understanding of a non-mandatory set of standards for Massachusetts hospitals based on a "scoring system" that decides who would get a ventilator if the medical system becomes overwhelmed by an emergency.
The governor asked for this medical and ethical advisement because the hardest questions doctors face when there's a shortage of equipment is who will get a ventilator and who won't. The concerned group believes the present-day set of applications will result in a disproportionate number of deaths of " indigenous people, Black people, Latino people, other communities of color, elders, immigrants, asylees, refugees and those who are undocumented, uninsured, incarcerated, homeless, experiencing poverty, or living with disability."
I think in a severe public health emergency, when the number of ventilators wouldn't be enough, saving the most lives is paramount. If we go by the book definition, fairness is impartial and just treatment without favoritism or discrimination. Well, that knocks out the Massachusetts model. And while no one can argue that the community of peoples listed are the most vulnerable, would that discriminate against people who have the best chances of survival?
If we can't get a consensus of agreement here, I think a life-or-death lottery, as dreadful as it sounds, might be the fairest option.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.