As coronavirus continues to spread rapidly throughout Italy, elderly patients over the age of 80 will be denied access to intensive care if capacity is reached.
Italians aged 80 or older with coronavirus will effectively be turned away by hospitals, should the pandemic in Italy reach a point that this becomes necessary. According to The Telegraph, a document prepared by a crisis management unit in Turin, the capital of the Piedmont region that has been deeply affected, outlines the protocol for determining which patients will be eligible for intensive care if hospital space and resources are at a shortage. , and the country is preparing for the worst possible scenarios. The document reads: “The growth of the current epidemic makes it likely that a point of imbalance between the clinical needs of patients with COVID-19 and the effective availability of intensive resources will be reached. Should it become impossible to provide all patients with intensive care services, it will be necessary to apply criteria for access to intensive treatment, which depends on the limited resources available.”
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“The criteria set out guidelines if the situation becomes of such an exceptional nature as to make the therapeutic choices on the individual case dependent on the availability of resources, forcing [hospitals] to focus on those cases in which the cost/benefit ratio is more favorable for clinical treatment,” it continues. “The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity Index [which indicates how many other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5.”
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“I never wanted to see such a moment,” Luigi Icardi, a councilor for health in Piedmont, admitted. “[The document] will be binding and will establish in the event of saturation of the wards a precedence code for access to intensive care, based on certain parameters such as potential survival.” More than 1,000 people in Italy have already died from coronavirus, with the death toll rising daily. “We want to arrive as late as possible at the point where we have to decide who lives and who dies,” said Roberto Testi, president of the coranavirus technical-scientific committee for Piedmont. “The criteria relate only to access to intensive care – those who do not get access to intensive care will still receive all the treatment possible. In medicine we sometimes have to make difficult choices but it’s important to have a system about how to make them.”