What miracle in medicine has saved many lives

Are doctors facing triage? : When saving lives means letting them die

The situation is known - and remains incomprehensible. People die, some days hundreds. Thousands are infected. Tens of thousands mourn the sick and deceased.

Most fates remain anonymous. This also applies to those whose operations are postponed and those who are not allowed to be visited in old people's homes.

Doctors, nurses and nurses are on the verge of exhaustion. That's what they say. But that's not true.

Most of them are not on the sidelines, but are already exhausted. Deeply exhausted. This characterizes the general state of society at the end of the Corona year. The mental resistance resources are in reserve. Children grow up with the word "quarantine".

Triage. No wonder that this word is also electrifying. It does not (yet) describe reality, but it is an inkling.

Because from today's infection numbers follow the numbers of the intensive care beds required the day after tomorrow, including the nursing staff, who are already in short supply. But if the capacity limits are exceeded, decisions must necessarily be made that override the principle of equality in individual medicine. Who should be given priority, whose lives should be given priority?

There is no triage law in Germany

There is no law in Germany that regulates this question. In March, seven medical societies developed a recommendation for action. According to this, a prioritization of patients should be based "on the criterion of clinical success prospects". That means: saving one person can mean having to let someone else die. Then every life is no longer worth the same.

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It is understandable that medical professionals need criteria for such extreme cases. Any form of personal responsibility, even liability, must be ruled out. It was not through their fault that they got into a dilemma that cannot be resolved without guilt - at least not in the sense that remorse, right up to later post-traumatic disorders, can be prevented. In a triage, goods that cannot be weighed must be weighed against each other. Human life is such a good. Having to make a choice between wrong and perhaps a little less wrong is cruel.

Give up from exhaustion? It is not an option

So far, sick people, relatives and survivors have found themselves in a situation that leaves many in despair. Those who are expected to receive help and rescue could soon join the group. Their already high level of physical exhaustion would be supplemented by psychological stress aimed at the ethical identity of doctors. It is still just a hunch, there are still enough beds and ventilators, and nobody is allowed to die. However, warnings about triage that would result from capacity overruns are not unfounded.

All of that in the Advent season. But even those who are not Christian can be amazed at the strange parallelism of increasing fear of overloading the health system and increasing hope - that the pandemic can be contained quickly through mass vaccinations. In Star Trek terminology, the forces of darkness and light wrestle with each other. Give up from exhaustion? It is not an option.

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