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Oregon issues guidelines for how hospitals should prioritize care amid omicron surge

Associated Press/Seth Wenig

Oregon issued guidance on Friday for how hospitals should prioritize care in critical situations amid a surge of omicron coronavirus cases. 

The Oregon Health Authority gave hospitals in the state an interim crisis care tool that would help them decide how to prioritize care in the event resources that multiple patients need are limited.

The interim triage tool says if a hospital has insufficient resources to care for all patients, the patients will be scored with “objective medical evidence.” 

“Care decisions should be based on the likelihood of survival to hospital discharge,” the health department said.

The tool does not allow hospitals to score a patient “based on stereotypes, assumptions about any individual’s quality of life, or judgement about an individual’s ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities.”

A person’s past or potential future medical needs are also not allowed to be used in the decision to provide care over another person.

“Triage decisions will be made without regard to morally or scientifically irrelevant considerations such as income, race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, health insurance coverage or other factors,” according to the guidance. 

Oregon said the guidance is based on similar rules in states such as Arizona, Massachusetts and Washington.

Hospitals are also allowed to have their own rules as long as they are consistent with the department’s equity guidance. 

The tool was given as hospitalizations in the state and around the country are increasing due to the omicron variant, which is known to be less deadly but more contagious than previous COVID-19 strains.

Tags Health care Hospital departments Oregon Triage

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