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Friday, December 2, 2022
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Dallas Doctors Considering Care Based on Vaccine Status

Health

Vaccination status could play a role in hospital care in the event of a crisis.

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With the Delta variant tearing through North Texas and hospital beds dwindling, local doctors face some difficult decisions. The North Texas Mass Critical Care Guideline Task Force has been meeting over the last few weeks to make decisions about protocols for when and if ICU beds become unavailable in Dallas and the surrounding communities.

The Guideline Task Force is made up of employees from approximately 50 local hospitals and medical centers. Their primary focus is to update guidelines for local hospitals, and while their decisions are not mandates, they are usually followed.

A document leaked from one of the group’s recent meetings has some Dallas residents concerned. COVID-19 vaccination status is not usually a factor in someone’s medical care; however, the Task Force is considering adding it to patient triage decisions.

While members of the Guidelines Task Force have assured reporters that this would only take effect if hospitals enter a Level-3 crisis stage, they also worry that hospitals will reach that stage if infection rates continue to rise in the next couple of weeks.

In an email summarizing the meeting and the possible decision to consider vaccine status as part of patient intake, and which patients become a priority, Task Force Chair Robert Fine broke the discussion down to three main points:

 

  1. “COVID-19 vaccination decreases severe infection and death. Vaccine status, therefore, may be considered when making triage decisions as part of the physician’s assessment of each individual’s likelihood of survival.”
  2. “When vaccination status is considered, accommodations may be needed when the reason for non-vaccination is beyond the patient’s control, such as but not limited to caretaker refusal to have a disabled dependent vaccinated recent COVID-19 infection or medical contraindication.”
  3. “Many are understandably angry and frustrated with the unvaccinated, but triage must remain grounded upon the likelihood of survival. Health care professionals should continue to honor duties of care and compassion.”

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