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1.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0257608, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1416907

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score predicts probability of in-hospital mortality. Many crisis standards of care suggest the use of SOFA scores to allocate medical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. RESEARCH QUESTION: Are SOFA scores elevated among Non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, compared to Non-Hispanic White patients? STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Retrospective cohort study conducted in Yale New Haven Health System, including 5 hospitals with total of 2681 beds. Study population drawn from consecutive patients aged ≥18 admitted with COVID-19 from March 29th to August 1st, 2020. Patients excluded from the analysis if not their first admission with COVID-19, if they did not have SOFA score recorded within 24 hours of admission, if race and ethnicity data were not Non-Hispanic Black, Non-Hispanic White, or Hispanic, or if they had other missing data. The primary outcome was SOFA score, with peak score within 24 hours of admission dichotomized as <6 or ≥6. RESULTS: Of 2982 patients admitted with COVID-19, 2320 met inclusion criteria and were analyzed, of whom 1058 (45.6%) were Non-Hispanic White, 645 (27.8%) were Hispanic, and 617 (26.6%) were Non-Hispanic Black. Median age was 65.0 and 1226 (52.8%) were female. In univariate logistic screen and in full multivariate model, Non-Hispanic Black patients but not Hispanic patients had greater odds of an elevated SOFA score ≥6 when compared to Non-Hispanic White patients (OR 1.49, 95%CI 1.11-1.99). INTERPRETATION: Given current unequal patterns in social determinants of health, US crisis standards of care utilizing the SOFA score to allocate medical resources would be more likely to deny these resources to Non-Hispanic Black patients.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Organ Dysfunction Scores , Pandemics , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/ethnology , COVID-19/mortality , Connecticut/epidemiology , Female , Hospital Mortality , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Retrospective Studies , Young Adult
2.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0256763, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1416875

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact in the United States, particularly for Black populations, and has heavily burdened the healthcare system. Hospitals have created protocols to allocate limited resources, but there is concern that these protocols will exacerbate disparities. The sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score is a tool often used in triage protocols. In these protocols, patients with higher SOFA scores are denied resources based on the assumption that they have worse clinical outcomes. The purpose of this study was to assess whether using SOFA score as a triage tool among COVID-positive patients would exacerbate racial disparities in clinical outcomes. METHODS: We analyzed data from a retrospective cohort of hospitalized COVID-positive patients in the Yale-New Haven Health System. We examined associations between race/ethnicity and peak overall/24-hour SOFA score, in-hospital mortality, and ICU admission. Other predictors of interest were age, sex, primary language, and insurance status. We used one-way ANOVA and chi-square tests to assess differences in SOFA score across racial/ethnic groups and linear and logistic regression to assess differences in clinical outcomes by sociodemographic characteristics. RESULTS: Our final sample included 2,554 patients. Black patients had higher SOFA scores compared to patients of other races. However, Black patients did not have significantly greater in-hospital mortality or ICU admission compared to patients of other races. CONCLUSION: While Black patients in this sample of hospitalized COVID-positive patients had higher SOFA scores compared to patients of other races, this did not translate to higher in-hospital mortality or ICU admission. Results demonstrate that if SOFA score had been used to allocate care, Black COVID patients would have been denied care despite having similar clinical outcomes to white patients. Therefore, using SOFA score to allocate resources has the potential to exacerbate racial inequities by disproportionately denying care to Black patients and should not be used to determine access to care. Healthcare systems must develop and use COVID-19 triage protocols that prioritize equity.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Delivery of Health Care/statistics & numerical data , Healthcare Disparities/statistics & numerical data , Hospitals, University , Organ Dysfunction Scores , Triage/statistics & numerical data , Adolescent , Adult , African Americans/statistics & numerical data , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Connecticut , Female , Healthcare Disparities/ethnology , Hospital Mortality/ethnology , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Triage/methods , Young Adult
3.
J Med Ethics ; 2020 Oct 16.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-873579

ABSTRACT

Shortages of life-saving medical resources caused by COVID-19 have prompted hospitals, healthcare systems, and governmentsto develop crisis standards of care, including 'triage protocols' to potentially ration medical supplies during the public health emergency. At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic health disparities that together constitute a form of structural racism. These disparities pose a critical ethical challenge in developing fair triage systems that will maximize lives saved without perpetuating systemic inequities. Here we review alternatives to 'utilitarian' triage, including first-come first-served, egalitarian, and prioritarian systems of allocating scarce medical resources. We assess the comparative advantages and disadvantages of these allocation schemes. Ultimately, we argue that while triage protocols should not exacerbate disparities, they are not an adequate mechanism for redressing systemic health inequities. Entrenched health disparities must be addressed through broader social change.

4.
J Clin Ethics ; 31(4): 303-317, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-812923

ABSTRACT

The coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has caused shortages of life-sustaining medical resources, and future waves of the virus may cause further scarcity. The Yale New Haven Health System developed a triage protocol to allocate scarce medical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the primary goal of saving the most lives possible, and a secondary goal of making triage assessments and decisions consistent, transparent, and fair. We outline the process of developing the triage protocol, summarize the protocol itself, and discuss the major ethical challenges encountered, along with our answers to these challenges. These challenges include (1) the role of age and chronic comorbidities; (2) evaluating children and pregnant patients; (3) racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health; (4) prioritization of healthcare workers; and (5) balancing clinical judgment versus protocolized assessments. We conclude with a review of the limitations of our protocol and the lessons learned. We hope that a robust public discussion of such protocols and the ethical challenges that they raise will result in the fairest possible processes, less need for triage, and more lives saved during future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and similar public health emergencies.


Subject(s)
Health Care Rationing/ethics , Health Resources/supply & distribution , Pandemics/ethics , Triage/ethics , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Child , Coronavirus Infections , Emergencies , Female , Humans , Pneumonia, Viral , Pregnancy , Public Health , SARS-CoV-2
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