Coronavirus 4

The ethics of triage

First come, first served? Or key workers and politicians before everyone else? How can doctors decide who to treat in a healthcare emergency when there are not enough beds or ventilators to go around? Triage, the practice of working out who to care for first, has been around in medicine for centuries but the concept has acquired a fresh intensity during the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was realistically feared the NHS might have significantly more patients sick with the virus than it had capacity. In this episode we discuss if it is ever right to pick between patients like this, and if so what methods might be wise – and which are ethically dubious.

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