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Virus patients more likely to die may have ventilators taken away

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Stable coronavirus patients could be taken off ventilators in favour of those more likely to survive, it emerged on Wednesday, as another sharp rise in deaths left the UK braced for the outbreak to reach up to 1,000 deaths a day by the end of the week.

In a stark new document issued by the British Medical Association (BMA), doctors set out guidelines to ration care if the NHS becomes overwhelmed with new cases as the outbreak moves towards its peak.

Under the proposals, designed to provide doctors with ethical guidance on how to decide who should get life-saving care when resources are overstretched, hospitals would have to impose severe limits on who is put on a ventilator. Large numbers of patients could be denied care, with those facing a poor prognosis losing the potentially life-saving equipment even if their condition is improving.

The BMA suggested that younger, healthier people could be given priority over older people and that those with an underlying illness may not get treatment that could save them, with healthier patients given priority instead.

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Source: The Guardian, 1 April 2020

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