What if We had to Choose Who Lives
This is not strictly a cancer question, but it may become one at some point. As a country, we are starting the painful conversation about limited resources and sky-rocketing costs and making painful decisions about care. There are places in the world where not everyone can have dialysis or a 4th line chemotherapy treatment or major cardiac surgery. If you have X amount of money in the total health care budget, do you spend it on immunizations for kids or pre-natal care or leukemia chemotherapy?
This essay from The New York Times is focused more on public questions. If there were a national disaster, how are medical choices made? Can the battlefield triage model-- you help the people who have a chance of living and give comfort only to those who will die--work elsewhere? Should it work elsewhere? Is this something we can bear to think about.
Whose Lives Should Be Saved? To Help
Shape Policy, Researchers in Maryland
Ask the Public
By SHERI FINK
BALTIMORE — In a church basement in a poor East Baltimore neighborhood, a
Johns Hopkins doctor enlisted residents to help answer one of the most fraught
questions in public health: When a surge of patients — from a disaster, disease
outbreak or terrorist attack — overwhelms hospitals, how should you ration care?
Whose lives should be saved first?
For the past several years, Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison, a critical care
physician at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues have led an unusual public debate
around Maryland, from Zion Baptist Church in East Baltimore to a wellness center
in wealthy Howard County to a hospital on the rural Eastern Shore. Preparing to
make recommendations for state officials that could serve as a national model, the
researchers heard hundreds of citizens discuss whether a doctor could remove one
patient from lifesaving equipment, like a ventilator, to make way for another who
might have a better chance of recovering, or take age into consideration in setting