Spain provides medics ‘ethical’ guidelines on how to prioritise who gets Coronavirus treatment

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Spain’s hospitals and doctors are now being prepared to make tough choices over who gets Coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment to avoid its healthcare system from collapsing, as witnessed by Italy. The Spanish Society of intensive care units, Sociedad Española de Medicina Intensiva Crítica y Unidades Coronarias (Semicyuc), has produced ‘ethical’ guidelines to help doctors make tough decision over who gets treatment if and when their hospitals become overburdened.

Intensive care units in the hardest hit areas of Madrid are already reaching their maximum capacity, while the number of infected needing hospital care is increasing, according to Spain’s Ministry of Health. At the latest count, Spain has already registered over a 1,000 deaths from the Coronavirus, with almost 20,000 people now infected.

This guide will be hugely invaluable for doctors to make the right decision, when faced with tough circumstances over who should be prioritised for treatment, given the severe lack of intensive care equipment and shortage of beds. The guidelines produced by Semiyuc recommends that in the event of having to choose between two ‘similar’ patients for treatment, they should prioritise the one that has the ‘best hope of quality of life’ – ‘regardless of age’. The guidelines explicitly say that age should not be the only factor that’s given consideration over who gets treatment.

In fact, Italian doctors warned the rest of Europe weeks ago to get prepared for the scenario they are currently faced with. According to a letter seen by the British national newspaper, The Independent, Italian doctors warned medics across Europe to ‘get ready’ for the Coronavirus, as up to ‘10% of all those infected are likely to need intensive care’


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Pepi Sappal

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