Bird flu doctors could be given military guards

Sunday Times said:
February 11, 2007

Bird flu doctors could be given military guards
Sarah-Kate Templeton, Health Correspondent
DOCTORS treating victims of avian flu may need security guards and even military protection to shield them from violent relatives should they be forced to choose which dying patients to treat and which to turn away during a pandemic, a government committee has warned.

The elderly, patients who have long-term health problems and those who are least likely to survive will be at the end of the queue and might be denied life-saving treatment.

The draft report by the critical care contingency planning group, a joint committee between the Department of Health and the Intensive Care Society, warns that relatives could resort to violence when they are told their loved one is not considered a high enough priority to receive care.

Patients who would have been resuscitated in normal circumstances will be allowed to die. Others will be taken off life-support machines if they fail to show early signs of improvement. Yesterday Help the Aged criticised the move. “Age should never be used as criteria for refusal of appropriate prevention or treatment,” said a spokeswoman.

The report says: “Additional security measures (possibly including military protection) may be necessary because of the risks of violence directed at staff making triage decisions.”

It adds: “Patients who have a low probability of survival, or for whom the predicted duration of critical care is likely to be such that many others will be consequently denied access to critical care, may not be admitted. However controversial, in the escalation towards worst case scenarios, increasing age, chronic disease and comorbidities [more than one illness] will have to be accepted as appropriate triage criteria.”

The Department of Health has warned that a pandemic could affect about a quarter of the British population and cause more than 50,000 deaths.
Wow ... overstretch in operational theatres, potential use of troops securing the Olympics, now troops in hospitals (and possibly GP surgeries) ... What next?
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