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What if We had to Choose Who Lives

Posted 8/23/2016

Posted in

  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.

  Read this:

Whose Lives Should Be Saved? To Help
Shape Policy, Researchers in Maryland
Ask the Public


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

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