Coronavirus: Quebec considering ‘nightmare scenario’ as hospitals approach capacity
|globalnews.ca 12 Jan 2021 at 19:55|
Dr. Eugene Bereza calls it the “nightmare scenario”: the possibility doctors in Quebec will have to implement a government protocol to decide who is admitted to intensive care and who will die.
Bereza, a professor of medicine and an ethics consultant at the McGill University Health Centre, reacted Tuesday to recent news that the province’s hospitals could start using the protocol in a matter of weeks.
“We never anticipated this would happen to us in Quebec, or Canada, in a non-war context,” Bereza said in an interview Tuesday.
On Monday, Dr. Lucie Opatrny, an assistant deputy health minister, told reporters that hospitals in the province had started to run training simulations involving the triage protocol for intensive care beds.
Canadian hospitals regularly ration care, Maxwell Smith, bioethics professor at Western University, said Tuesday. But that type of rationing is normal and involves deciding how quickly people see a doctor based on the urgency of their needs.
Rationing care because there aren’t enough resources to provide lifesaving treatment, however, is “a totally unique situation that we haven’t faced in the past,” he said in an interview.
Doctors and nurses are used to doing everything they can to help each individual patient, Bereza said, adding, “an extreme pandemic turns that completely upside down.” If the protocol is implemented, the focus instead becomes saving as many lives as possible, with the available resources.
“Nobody’s going to be happy implementing this, we’re all going to be traumatized by it,” Bereza said. “The reason we’re doing it is because we think it’s going to accomplish more good. It’s the lesser of several evils.”