Italian hospitals, buckling under a surge of coronavirus patients, may soon have to deny intensive care treatment to people over 80, according to draft plans for the next phase of the crisis.
A written proposal by the civil protection department of the badly-hit northern region of Piedmont, seen by The Telegraph newspaper, warns that the constant rise in patients means that demand for intensive care resources will outstrip supply. That will force health authorities to choose who gets treated and who doesn’t — with those considered more likely to survive to get priority.
The document, which lays out guidelines for assessing who should get treatment once that tipping point is reached, proposes that people over 80, and those already in poor health, will be denied.
“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 [measuring what other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5,” says the document.
Luigi Icardi, a health councillor in Piedmont, said the protocols would establish binding priorities for who receives treatment, based on their chance of survival. “I never wanted to see such a moment,” he said.
The document reportedly only needs approval from a technical-scientific committee before being sent to hospitals. Government sources said the same criteria were expected to be rolled out throughout Italy, the Telegraph reported.