OHA Provides Resources Regarding Allocating Scarce Medical Resources

As hospitals prepare for the expected surge in patients, and deal with limited resources of both staff and equipment, they are doing all they can to expand capacity and procure supplies and equipment. While hospitals and providers will do all they can to provide the best care to every patient, they also need to plan for situations where the number of patients in need of intense medical interventions exceeds the available resources.

To help inform the difficult discussions associated with navigating those situations of limited resources, OHA offers this document regarding allocating scarce medical resources. The document provides a framework for hospitals to consider in engaging in discussions and planning about allocating scarce resources.

The core of this document was developed several years ago by a team of physicians and subject matter experts, and though it was not completed at the time as an official state plan, it may be helpful to hospitals as a resource during the current crisis.

Hospitals hope to never have to engage in these difficult discussions and decisions, but may find these resources useful in preparing, should the health care system’s capacity be stretched to the point of necessitating these decisions. In addition to the document noted above are the following resources:

  • An “Action Items” summary document prepared by OHA that highlights the action steps hospitals should consider as outlined in the above-referenced document.
  • A compendium of resources from the American Hospital Association that includes several resources regarding allocating scarce resources and the related ethical considerations.
  • A recent article led by a team at Johns Hopkins University regarding allocating scarce resources during a disaster. This article appeared in the Chest Journal (published by the American College of Chest Physicians).
  • Guidance of the American Medical Association regarding allocating scarce resources.
  • A collection of resources from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response.
  • A sample policy recently developed by Doug White, MD, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, UPMC Endowed Chair for Ethics in Critical Care Medicine.