Monday, May 5, 2008

Matters of Life and Death

A cheery article in today's news reports that a task force of influential physicians and academics have developed a series of guidelines to help medical personnel deliver health care in the event of a widespread emergency.

Recognizing that the nation's health care system will quickly become overburdened with millions of people in the case of a natural disaster or pandemic, they set out to create a system which medical workers can use to provide or withhold care.

Among those who could conceivably be turned away at the door are people over 85, individuals with serious burns or injuries, or anyone with severe dementia or Alzheimer's. Basically, if you were old or sick to begin with and you show up during a widespread emergency, you're going to the back of the line. Way, way back.

While creating these guidelines is probably good planning on the part of health care experts, what chilled me was the article's tone of inevitability. Particularly the phrase, "the proposed guidelines are designed to be a blueprint for hospitals so that everybody will be thinking in the same way when pandemic flu or another widespread health care disaster hits."

Not if, but when.

This has been your good scare for the day.

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