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Doctors List Who Should Die in a Pandemic

If a global and deadly pandemic hits, doctors will have to chose who to save, and thus, who to let die. Prominent doctors have now put out a definitive list of who is in and who is out.

They made the list at the behest of prominent universities and military and US governmental agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. The list specifically articulates who should not get medical attention in a widespread emergency.

  • People older than 85.
  • Those with severe trauma, which could include critical injuries from car crashes and shootings.
  • Severely burned patients older than 60.
  • Those with severe mental impairment, which could include advanced Alzheimer's disease.
  • Those with a severe chronic disease, such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes.

Do you make the cut? Are you happy to see governmental agencies and physicians getting organized, since preparation could save more lives? Even so, does this godlike list — of who should live and who should die — make you uncomfortable? Does it amount to unfair discrimination?

Join The Conversation
Orwell Orwell 9 years
I think they are trying to condition us for something awful... "If a global and deadly pandemic hits" Who would trigger that?! The "who should die list" is a very weak reflection of what will really happen in such a disaster. Ever heard of the FEMA camps? Google it... and be horrified of the information. The countdown has begun; it's a matter of little time before the end of freedom has come.
junkotokiio junkotokiio 9 years
this is terrible, i mean they don't say it but I'm sure poorer people wouldn't get treated if it's how it works!
treble8705 treble8705 9 years
this is kind of crazy.. I mean, it's scary enough to think about death but I figure that this list needs to be made. wow....
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
a friend of mine is a nurse and i was discussing this list w/ her. she said that if it gets to the point where a list like this was necessary it would become useless almost immediately, that supplies would be so hard to get that most people weren't getting treatment anyway. we'd basically all be on our own. and it's not loike anyone would show up saying "oh i have a mental health condition.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
But are you cute? I thought the list said you had to be "cute female, of young childbearing age.. " ;) JK
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
It's not as short of a list as I'd expected. I was thinking, ok, "I am a strong healthy female of young childbearing age, so that means I'm most likely a plus..."
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 9 years
i definitely agree with what dr. sugar said. in my previous post it was sort of a drawn out version of the same thing. yes this decision exists but its about survival of the species; and i dont feel it should have been officially published.
BeamerCG BeamerCG 9 years
I'm not going to worry about it. If another Black Death hits, the government is going to be so busy dealing with mass hysteria that they won't have time to make sure hospitals are following a list. Seriously, they mention this list, but how do you enforce it? I hate to be cynical, but it may be a better shield for doctors against frivolous lawsuits AFTER a pandemic when families try to sue because one of their loved one died due to triage practices.
DrSugar DrSugar 9 years
As a doctor, if I was faced with a widespread pandemic, I would treat the sickest patients with the greatest likelihood of long-term survival first. I think this is common sense. I believe that producing an official triage criteria is fairly unhelpful and definetly makes me very uncomfortable.
Xandara Xandara 9 years
Reminds me of the movie Deep Impact. I hate thinking about this kind of thing.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Hey, as long as we're making a list of people who should die in a pandemic, could I add a few names? It's just a couple dozen or so people who I can't see spending any more time around than I have to.. ;)
bailaoragaditana bailaoragaditana 9 years
It's definitely not very nice to think about... but it seems I would (at this point in time) make the cut... but some people I care about wouldn't...
stephley stephley 9 years
The triage concept isn't a surprise, it's that someone is committing a list to paper and publishing it as THE way to go.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 9 years
I'm a bit surprised that this concept surprises anyone. Do you think they don't already triage on pretty much this basis? With the new report I just heard about on the radio today, finding that all 32 (or 34?) of the emergency rooms surveyed were overburdened on a "normal" day, some of these decisions are probably made more often than we might like to think.
poizenisxkandee poizenisxkandee 9 years
well. this is another adaptation of social darwinism. old people will die soon anyway, those with diseases wouldnt strengthen the gene pool. yes, i know we love those close to us, its part of human nature to protect our pack; but even deeper roots lead to survival of the species. think about it. if you had to throw a baby off a cliff or an old woman, what would you do? the baby would be able to grow up and have a life and continue the human race. the old woman has 10 - 20 years know? its not that doctors have no emotions or dont care about people; most doctors (my parents included) obviously care about people and making them better. but in a huge panic causing pandemic, continuation of the human race prevails. a lot of doctors need to have at least some detachment from their jobs...can you imagine being in the ICU for children...youd try so hard to make this kid make it; but no...the parent outlives the kid...thats rough. really rough. it almost happened, my brother had severe food poisoning and for awhile, i almost didnt have a little brother...but can you imagine having a doctor that was so involved in our family story and how sad it was that they could not properly perform their job? i dont think it was necessary to worry the masses and make this list and hypothetical situation public; but its almost something unwritten that can be seen as common sense.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
That's a good question, Stephley. I understand the need to have a list, but I don't see anything good about letting others know about the list. I can see people at parties going "Oh, I can't go out with you, you're not on the list." :)
liliblu liliblu 9 years
My cousin would not make the cut. She has lupus, which attacked her kidneys. That led to kidney failure. She takes dialysis three times a week. Just the thought of her being considered expendable saddens me.
stephley stephley 9 years
Ok Dave, if the standard is deadly and global, why rush to distribute the list? It's only happened in movies so far.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
so it's like a government DNR. interesting. how old is john mccain?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I thought the first line pretty much summed it up: "If a Deadly and Global Pandemic hits,..."
stephley stephley 9 years
But the article doesn't really elaborate on that and they do talk about the list giving hospitals a guiding starting point. SARS didn't create a need for a list like this to be used - I really don't think it's a great idea to be publishing or distributing the list it until details like when to use it and some of the ethical questions the list brings up are dealt with. If a pandemic strikes before the issues are ironed out, we'll all just have to deal the way humanity has up until now. Again, considering that 3-year olds and nuns have been stopped at airports because of the terror watch list, I'm not sure I trust our authorities with a list like this.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I don't think so Stephley, considering the article talks about a pandemic. Global warming on the other hand....
heineken67 heineken67 9 years
I'm completely comfortable with this list.
stephley stephley 9 years
Actually, the article doesn't define what kind of emergency would require doctors to start following the recommendations - would this have kicked in during the first days after Katrina? Considering how Homeland Security has handled the terror watch list, I'd recommend taking this list away from them right now.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
why wait for a pandemic?? these people should be left to die now. would lower taxes for all of us.
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