Italy To Prioritize Corona Patients With Better Survival Chances Over Those Above 80 Years Of Age

Italy To Prioritize Corona Patients With Better Survival Chances Over Those Above 80 Years Of Age

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned that the country is entering its "riskiest weeks," and that "the outbreak has not reached its peak" yet.

Image Source: Getty Images/Javier Zayas Photography (Representative)

Italian hospitals, collapsing under the sudden surge of patients, might have to prioritize intensive care to coronavirus patients with better chances of survival over those aged 80 and above, proposes a draft created by a crisis management unit in Turin. The plan, drawn up by the civil protection department of the hardest-hit regions of Piedmont, warns that the constant rise in patients would soon surpass the supply of intensive care resources. Thus, health officials would be forced to choose who gets treatment and who doesn't with the ones who are more likely to survive to get priority. Doctors fear that some patients would be essentially left to die if intensive care is denied.


"The growth of the current epidemic makes it likely that a point of imbalance between the clinical needs of patients with COVID-19 and the effective availability of intensive resources will be reached," says the document. It further lays out the guidelines for assessing who gets treatment once the tipping point is reached. "The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity Index [measuring what other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5," read the plan according to The Telegraph.


"Should it become impossible to provide all patients with intensive care services, it will be necessary to apply criteria for access to intensive treatment, which depends on the limited resources available," it continues reading. "The criteria set out guidelines if the situation becomes of such an exceptional nature as to make the therapeutic choices on the individual case dependent on the availability of resources, forcing [hospitals] to focus on those cases in which the cost/benefit ratio is more favorable for clinical treatment." 


Providing their view, one doctor said, "[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient's] health conditions. This is how it is in a war." A councilor for health in Piedmont, Luigi Icardi, revealed how he never wanted to witness such an awful moment. "I never wanted to see such a moment. It [the document] will be binding and will establish in the event of saturation of the wards a precedence code for access to intensive care, based on certain parameters such as potential survival," he explained. Currently, the completed document only requires to be approved by a technical-scientific committee before being sent to hospitals. According to government sources, it will be implemented throughout Italy. 


Over 2100 people in Italy have succumbed to COVID-19 with the number of confirmed cases soaring up to almost 28,000. The high death toll in Italy has been linked to the age of the population, i.e. the oldest in Europe. About 28.6% of the Italian population was 60-year-old or older, according to a 2015 UN report, as they stand in second place after Japan at 33%. Whereas, South Korea ranks 53rd globally with 18.5% of the population being at least 60 years of age. This disparity was impacted and seen during the analysis of coronavirus deaths in each county, reports CNN.


Medical authorities in Italy have been warning about the collapse of their healthcare system as the epidemic worsens. The continuous flow of new patients has pushed ICU bed capacity to its breaking point, reports Vice. Despite imposing a national lockdown, the rise in infections and deaths doesn't seem to slow down. Warning about the "serious and widespread" damage of the virus, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, "A true 'reconstruction plan' will be needed." Speaking to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, he continued, "After the coronavirus, nothing will be as before. We will have to sit down and rewrite the rules of trade and the free market." According to NBC News, he added, "Scientists are telling us that the outbreak has not reached its peak, these weeks will be the most risky, and the maximum precaution is needed."

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