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Pandemic influenza: The ethics of scarce resource allocation and the need for a hospital Scarce Resource Allocation Committee

Sandro K. Cinti, MD, Andrew R. Barnosky, DO, MPH, Steven E. Gay, MD, Susan Dorr Goold, MD, Marie Lozon, MD, Kristin Kim, MD, Phil Rodgers, MD, Nancy M. Baum, PhD, Thomas J. Blessing, JD, Bruce Cadwallender, MS, CSP, CPSM, Paul Loik, RRT, Carrie Wright, MS, Robert A. Winfield, MD


In the event of a virulent influenza pandemic, certain resources including ventilators, antibiotics, vaccines, oxygen, hospital beds, and antiviral medications will need to be carefully allocated. It is essential that scarce resources are allocated in an ethical manner taking into account the patient’s individual right to competent care and a population’s right to the fair distribution of potentially life-saving treatments. This article summarizes the ethical basis for distributing scarce resources and the rationale for establishing a hospital-based Scarce Resource Allocation Committee, a system of multiple triage officers, and a Clinical Review Committee.


pandemic, influenza, scarce resources, ventilators

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