June 03, 2020

COVID-19 and Resource Allocation: Planning for Times of Scarce Medical Resources

By Lynn M. Barrett, Esq., CHC, CCP, Barrett Law, PA, Weston, FL

President Theodore Roosevelt once reportedly said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”1 During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not always been easy to determine what doing the right thing means. In times when medical resources become scarce, choices may have to be made as to who should receive limited medical supplies and services. Relatively early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, approximated that one in five people who contracted the novel coronavirus would need hospital care.2  Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that up to 20 percent of children infected with the novel coronavirus in the United States would require hospitalization.3 At the time, questions began to arise as to whether hospitals would have the capacity to care for the increasing number of individuals who would need to be hospitalized, whether because they contracted COVID-19 or for other, non-COVID-19 conditions.

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