NEWS ALERT: What to know about rationing of care and COVID-19

December 2, 2020 / COVID-19


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to set new records for cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, it’s incredibly important for all Ohioans with disabilities to understand their rights when it comes to receiving care. As more COVID patients require inpatient medical care, our hospital systems can struggle at times to keep up with demand.

Increasing demand on hospitals and other medical centers is likely to bring changes to the way patients receive care. The Ohio Department of Health has created guidelines for hospitals to follow should resources like staffing, equipment, and critical care beds become limited, and most hospitals have their own guidelines as well. Depending on how the guidelines are written, people with disabilities could be discriminated against. Hospitals are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so it’s important to advocate for yourself when possible. People with disabilities and their families should be informed about their rights and be included in decision-making about their care. Crisis plans should be transparent and accessible.

With resources in short supply, decisions around allocation of care must be made based on an individualized clinical assessment, based on the best objective medical evidence and the person’s ability to respond to treatment and short-term survivability from COVID-19. Many people have conditions or difficulties that are unrelated to their ability to recover from COVID-19, but some hospital crisis plans may inadvertently penalize them for these disabilities. Attempts to project one’s “long-term survivability” is fraught with error and may discriminate against people with disabilities and older adults.

To put it simply hospital protocols that prioritize “young” or “healthy” individuals over those who are “older” or “sicker” cannot be used in lieu of individual assessments of short-term survivability, and people with disabilities should not be excluded from treatment or care or de-prioritized based on stereotypes, perceptions about their quality of life or judgments about their relative worth based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. If you have been denied care or have concerns about the rationing of medical care amid the ongoing pandemic, please contact our intake line at 614-466-7264 or 1-800-282-9181.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center here.

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