Earlier this month, the provincial government sent a triage protocol document to hospitals initiating a triage protocol.
This document details three levels to determine if patients will be given critical care treatments. The levels are as follows:
- Triage 1: Patients whose survival rate is greater than 20% over 12 months will be given some priority.
- Trage 2: Patients whose survival rate is greater than 50% over 12 months will be given priority for care.
- Triage 3: Patients whose survival rate is greater than 70% over 12 months will be given priority for critical care.
Patients will be assessed by two physicians and if they can’t come to a conclusion, a more optimistic evaluation will be given. If there are multiple patients that have to be assessed at the same time, an administrator will conduct a systematic random selection.
If ICU patients do not show signs of improvement, doctors will discuss with the patient or family members on withdrawing life support.
These sudden changes came about because of the surge in cases of COVID-19 and its new variant. Hospitals in Ontario are reaching maximum capacity and are losing resources such as ventilators, staff and supplies.
This protocol was actually introduced last year in March but was immediately stopped because of complaints regarding human rights violations. Not only is it detrimental to patients, but it also takes an immense toll on health-care professionals who will make these decisions daily.
Although it has not been made official yet, experts believe it will have to be started soon in the upcoming months.
“It makes me very uncomfortable, it's morally distressing and it's terrible for patients," said Dr.Michael Warner. He also mentioned that not every patient that needs critical care will not be able to get it, regardless if it's related to COVID or not. "The public needs to understand they're at risk of not getting the care they need," he said.
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwarth accused Doug Ford and his government of keeping this a secret. “This document shows us all that we are on the path to heart-wrenching choices and devastating loss if we don’t make this lockdown count with stronger measures — paid sick days, more help in long-term care, and in-workplace and in-school testing. People that are loved dearly — people that need medical help the most — could be left to die if we do not make the choice to throw everything we’ve got at this virus,” she said in a statement.
This protocol also discriminates against those with disabilities. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance (AODA Alliance) said that the 12-month time frame does not account for complications that those with disabilities may face.
Reaching a plateau in the daily number of cases has once again become a challenge. Towards the end of 2020, Canada was reducing greatly. However, with the new variant taking off, cases have risen steeply.
At a time like this, it is important to adhere to guidelines that are set by the authorities. It’s restricting. It’s challenging. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual struggle. But if we don’t correct now, we may never be able to go back to the world we once knew. It is important to understand the depravity people are in. Doctors have to painfully choose who to save and who to leave. One man’s life is left in another’s.