- From Our Journals
Avoiding Ineffective End-of-Life Care: A Lesson from Triage?
Abstract: Ethicists and physicians all over the world have been working on triage protocols to plan for the possibility that the Covid‐19 pandemic will result in shortages of intensive care unit beds, ventilators, blood products, or medications. In reflecting on those protocols, many health care workers have noticed that, outside the pandemic shortage situation, we routinely supply patients in the ICU with invasive and painful care that will not help the patients survive even their hospitalization. This is the kind of pointless care that even the most basic protocol would triage against. Perhaps this widespread reflection on triage standards will draw our attention to our ongoing custom of supplying burdensome and inefficacious care to those near the end of life—care that most health care providers would not want for themselves. This essay argues that reflecting on triage could help us improve end‐of‐life care.