Which factors should be included in triage? An online survey of the attitudes of the UK general public to pandemic triage dilemmas

February 12, 2020

Wilkinson D, Zohny H, Kappes A, Sinnott-Armstrong W, Savulescu J

BMJ Open

This article wanted to explore the agreement or disagreement levels at which the average UK citizen stands for regarding the present national protocol characteristics of triage. It presented hypothetical scenarios of patients with specific factors, aiming to decide, as it is sadly happening right now at so many hospitals around the world, the admission, continuation, or reallocation of resources within the ICU. Majorly people manifested to agree on a utilitarian prioritization as the ones stated by the BMA or the NICE. Other factors beyond the previous ones were also established, like the degree of cognitive disability of a patient in respect to another one or if a patient has people who directly depend on them versus another one who doesn't. It was found that the vast majority chose a random selection when the differences between either factors was definitely greater whether that was age, frailty or life expectancy. Nevertheless: they gave priority to a patient with better prognosis when the difference in treatment time was significant. Works of this nature, in which the population is given the opportunity to reflect, to get informed, and to have a dialogue during moments of crisis does not only legitimize a democratic exercise of medicine

Wilkinson D, Zohny H, Kappes A, Sinnott-Armstrong W, Savulescu J. Which factors should be included in triage? An online survey of the attitudes of the UK general public to pandemic triage dilemmas. BMJ Open. 2020;10(12):e045593. Published 2020 Dec 8. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045593

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