Dr. Arthur Jey, an emergency room doctor who works at a Sutter Medical hospital in downtown Sacramento, said there are ongoing discussions about how to ration care at his facility, but if there is a shortage, he plans to also ask patients if they want to be ventilated.
He said he has often been surprised by older patients who tell him firmly that they don’t want any additional medical measures.
“We think a lot of people want to live no matter what, but over the years, I have been taken aback by so many people who have said, ‘No, I’m OK.’” he said. “There are people who would say, ‘You know what, save somebody else.’”
He said the fundamental question medical providers will ask themselves in these tough situations is: “Do I think I can pull them through?”
If the answer is no, then it will go to someone else, he said.
LOS ANGELES — It’s a choice most doctors never thought they would have to make: Who lives and who dies.
But in coming weeks, if COVID-19 continues to surge, such decisions will be inevitable.
The coronavirus will attack so many people’s lungs that thousands could show up at hospitals gasping for air and will need to be hooked up to machines that breathe for them. But there won’t be enough ventilators for everyone, forcing doctors to make impossible calls about which lives to save.