TITLE: Rationing in COVID-19

BLURB: Ethical principles can guide the rationing of care during the current pandemic.

Table 1 – Some relevant ethical principles for rationing care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Relevant principle

Implications or examples

Saving the most lives or life years

Consider patient prognosis; highest priority

Priority for those with greater instrumental social value

Prioritize health care workers and research study participants when other factors are equal

Priority for the worst off

Prioritize the young and socially disadvantaged groups (e.g., the poor) when other factors are equal

Random selection (“lottery”)

Can be used for deciding between patients who are similar along other criteria


Source: Adapted from E. Emanuel and others. 2020. “Fair Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources in the Time of Covid-19.” New England Journal of Medicine (March).