Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is this Reality or Reality TV??? Who SHOULD Doctors Let Die in a Pandemic

Well, it has happened just the way I predicted and over dinner my children will be regaled with a hearty chorus of “I told you so!”

For many years now I have been a mean mom and have exerted my supreme right of (remote) control and have severely curtailed the viewing of ‘reality TV’ in our home.

I watched the first episode of the first Survivor show long ago and never went back. It reminded me of Lord of the Flies. I told my kids that the habit of setting up criteria, measuring people and voting them “on or off the island” is both infectious and poisonous. It degrades us and our culture and steeping ourselves in it will damage us.

They rolled their eyes and said what they always say when I rant: “Yeah right, Mom!”

Well it has happened—not only are high school cliques, neighborhood bullies, and the Joneses (and those who keep up with them) embracing the Reality TV mentality, but now they have been joined by an ‘influential group of physicians.’

Yesterday the Associated Press released an article that said that a task force of respected physicians had created a “grimly specific” list of who should be treated in the event of a major health disaster and who should not. (Read the article here.)

Those who are on their list, people over 85, those with certain injuries, those with mental disabilities, and others, are ‘off the island’ or “out of luck” as the article phrases it.

As a beginning point, I think this makes sense. Assessment is a good first step and if there will not be enough healthcare availability in a disaster, we need to know it.

So, what’s next?

How about a cooperative project with businesses, the American Red Cross, the Public Health Service or others to find ways to train more people… increase supplies… create personal or neighborhood response scenarios?

How about gathering tons of clever ideas about making the most of supplies and creating on-line and hard copy instructions and a way to distribute them to the masses? You could include survivalists and engineers on the team...

How about something with Postal workers for example? In many parts of the country they are at every person’s home every day. Or hairdressers? Or grocery stores?

These are just two seconds worth of my ideas—I’m sure a group of experts who were concentrating on what we CAN do instead of on what we CAN’T do could come up with a compelling list and even a plan. (Stephen Hawkings could be on the committee, I bet he’d be very motivated!)

Could they save the whole world? Maybe not.

Could they improve on where we are now? Probably.

Since we are not in a pandemic at the moment are they working on this or something like it?


The article says that the eminent task force who wrote the report feels that triage teams who are prepared to deny treatment to these specific groups is the answer. As long as everyone is on the same page and will deny services to the same people, they have done their job.

Reality TV values have become Reality.

(Image here.)


Barbara said...

From the original article:
"The recommendations would probably violate federal laws against age discrimination and disability discrimination, said Gostin, who was not on the task force."

Looks like no one on the panel read the convention on disabilities by the UN.

Terri said...

Actually the US hasn't signed on, but the House of Representatives resolved this week to consider it!