State Pandemic Triage Plans May Discriminate

Friday, September 1, 2023

Pandemic triage plans that consider age, disability, comorbidities, and prolonged post-hospital survival when allocating scarce treatment resources may discriminate against minoritized racial and ethnic groups, older adults, and individuals with disabilities, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open (JAMA Network Open). In the early stages of the COVID pandemic, the federal Office for Civil Rights at DHHS called for revisions to several US state pandemic preparedness plans. Despite these changes, the authors conclude that state plans still on the books continue to raise clinical, ethical, and civil rights concerns and risk violating public trust. They recommend that states revisit their COVID triage procedures, make those plans publicly available, and reconsider the factors to be used when allocating scarce treatment resources in a public health crisis. Researchers involved in this study include senior author Erin S. DeMartino, MD, of the Mayo Clinic, and Consortium Chair Susan M. Wolf, JD.