“Ethical Considerations Relating to Critical Care in the Context of COVID-19” (published 3rd April) is a document that deals with issues relating to the provision of critical care interventions in a situation where ICU capacity is exhausted, and not all patients who require intensive care can be admitted.

The focus of the Department, in conjunction with the HSE, is to ensure that such a scenario can be averted through continued public support and adherence to social distancing measures, and the significant increase in the critical care capacity within the hospital system.

In the interest of contingency planning, the guidance sets out the criteria for ICU admission and treatment which should support doctors in making consistent decisions around how to utilise scarce resources in the fairest way possible. The document stresses that the allocation procedure must be fair, objectively justified and transparent.

The document states that allocation decisions should be made following a multi-factorial clinical assessment of which patients will benefit most from critical care and will have the potential for good long-term clinical outcomes.

The document states that decisions should not be made in a way that would result in unfair discrimination and emphasises that no single factor should be taken, in isolation, as a determining factor. Age is given as one example; however, the statement would equally extend to other factors including disability.

Minister for Disabilities Finian McGrath said he is aware of concerns which people with disabilities have regarding their potential care should they contract Covid 19. “I am happy that the guidance document makes clear that everyone is morally equal, every life matters and everyone, including those with a disability, will receive appropriate care”, the Minister said. ·

“I know that officials in the Department of Health have been working with HSE colleagues to disseminate this document across the healthcare system and to ensure that any decision-making tools developed are aligned with and adhere to the ethical principles outlined in this high-level guidance” the Minister added.

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