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Italy has the most cases of Covid-19 besides China, with 24,747 confirmed cases, 2,335 recoveries and 1,809 deaths at the time of writing. Following the huge spike of cases in the country over the past few weeks, the World Health Organisation has now identified Europe to be the epicentre of the pandemic outbreak, reported BBC.
With the country’s Covid-19 cases climbing steeply by the day, Italy’s crisis management unit has decided that patients aged 80 and above or in poor health, will be denied access to intensive care if a time comes when there are insufficient beds in hospitals.
This means that some patient may have to be left to die, doctors fear.
According to The Telegraph, the unit has drawn up a protocol that will determine which patients receive treatment in intensive care and which do not if there are insufficient spaces.
“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,” said the civil protection department of the Piedmont region.
“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.”
The ability of the patient to recover from resuscitation will also be considered.
“[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient’s] health conditions. This is how it is in a war,” one doctor said.
Currently, the document has been completed and will need approval from a technical-scientific committee before it is sent to hospitals. The criteria are expected to apply throughout Italy, government sources said.
Italy now has 5,090 intensive care beds, which is still enough for the current number of patients who need them. More space is being created in private clinics, nursing homes and tents, however, there is a lack of doctors, nurses and equipment.
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