As coronavirus ravages Spain, doctors get a grim order on 'futility of care' for the very old and very sick
Added 04-05-20 08:11:02am EST - “A document circulated by the health department of Catalonia recommends that emergency teams and health care workers stop using ventilators for patients older than 80, and further recommends that extremely ill victims of COVID-19 be…” - News.yahoo.com
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BARCELONA — On Thursday, a gray and gloomy day in Barcelona — normally sunny and festive this time of year — residents awoke to unsettling news. According to regional newspaper LaVanguardia and other sources, a document circulated by the health department of Catalonia — the northeast region of Spain that has Barcelona as its capital — recommends that emergency teams and health care workers stop using ventilators for patients older than 80, and further recommends that extremely ill victims of COVID-19 be allowed to die at home rather than being taken to the hospital.
Alfons López Tena, a former member of the Catalan Parliament, explained it this way in a tweet: “Catalonia’s govt decides to let die coronavirus patients who have ‘less years to live’, [and recommends] no ‘admissions in hospital of patients with little benefit’. Elders and those with preexisting conditions will be given morphine to avoid ‘futility of health care.’”
End-of-life euthanasia is sanctioned in some countries in Europe but is illegal in Spain, a Catholic country.
It was the ethical call that many health workers had presumed they might face in Catalonia, which has nearly 24,000 cases of COVID-19 and where admissions to intensive care units have tripled in the past few weeks. But the recommendation outraged many elderly residents, according to an online publication for retirees, 65Ymás, and also the Medical Union of Catalonia, whose spokesman, Dr. Álex Ramos, described himself as "absolutely shocked" by the regional government’s recommendations. “It seems to us that age is not a sufficient criterion to deny assistance, if other measures have not been previously tried to avoid saturation of hospitals, such as asking for help from other [hospitals or the government].”
Other headlines spilled more upsetting news: Spain had broken its record for deaths — with more than 950 overnight, bringing the total number of known deaths in this country to over 10,000, a fifth of the world’s known fatalities. (The real figure is probably higher than 10,000, since likely victims who weren’t tested for the virus before they died aren’t being counted.)
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