August 19, 2021 | The Dallas Morning News
If North Texas runs out of ICU hospital beds, doctors can consider a patient’s vaccination status
North Texas doctors have quietly developed a plan that seeks to prepare for the possibility that due to the COVID-19 surge the region will run out of intensive-care beds.
If that happens, for the first time, doctors officially will be allowed to take vaccination status of sick patients into account along with other triage factors to see who gets a bed.
Dr. Harald Schmidt, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied gaps in medical treatments of COVID-19 patients by race, ethnicity and income.
He said this new North Texas policy is troublesome, especially the part in the memo that allows for exemptions for non-vaccinated patients because of reasons “beyond the patient’s control.”
That excludes the vulnerable poor and people of color, he says. Those groups have received poorer health care, in general, than richer, white communities. They also suffer from lower vaccination rates due to a variety of factors such as lack of transportation and distrust of medical authorities.
Aug. 19, 2021: After this story was posted, Dr. Mark Casanova, director of clinical ethics for Baylor University Medical Center, gave interviews to local media and revised his story. He described the memo to the task force as a “homework assignment.” In a reversal, he told NBC-5 that vaccinations should not be among the factors hospitals should consider when making critical care triage decisions.