PASADENA (CBSLA) – Huntington Hospital in Pasadena is planning for how patient care would potentially be rationed if Los Angeles County’s coronavirus situation continues to deteriorate and the hospital’s resources become stretched too thin.
The hospital released a worksheet this week which describes how the process would work.
A panel made up of doctors and a bioethicist would analyze the cases of “critically ill” patients and determine which should receive the most medical attention.
“This team will make necessary decisions about allocating limited medical resources based on the best medical information possible and will use the same decision criteria that is being used nationally and throughout California on all patient cases,” the worksheet reads.
The team will not be provided information about each patient’s race, ethnicity, religion, gender, citizenship, sexual identity or health insurance in order that their decisions be as unbiased as possible.
“While we have not yet enacted this policy, we felt it was imperative to share in advance for ethical transparency,” the hospital said in a statement.
L.A. County is in the midst of a historic medical crisis, with hospital system on the brink of collapse. Like many hospitals, Huntington has already set up a surge tent in its parking lot. In some cases, patients are being forced to wait hours in ambulances before they can be admitted. Some hospitals are so short on space they are using conference rooms and gift shops to treat patients.
According to the latest state numbers Tuesday, L.A. County has 7,415 people hospitalized with coronavirus, a record since the start of the pandemic. Of those 20.1% are in intensive care units.
As a whole, Southern California’s 11 counties have an ICU bed availability of 0%.
State health officials Tuesday were expected to extend Southern California’s regional stay-at-home order, which bans all public and private gatherings except for religious gatherings and protests. It also bans restaurants for indoor or outdoor dining and requires retailers to limit capacity to 20% and grocery stores to 35%. It also requires all nail salons, barbers, movie theaters, breweries, bars, museums and zoos to remain closed.