Who will be rescued – who will not?

Who will be rescued - who will not?

Nurse on ventilators © Jens Buettner

The question is ethically difficult: If there is only one ventilator on two patients – who will be saved, who not? Doctors call for legal regulation on this ie. Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht opposes the idea.

Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) rejects doctors' demand for legal protection of the question of which patient should be saved and which should not in extreme cases.

In a different context, the Federal Constitutional Court had determined "that every life is equally worthy of protection and that it may not be weighed against another life," Lambrecht told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Deciding according to medical considerations

Legislators are reaching their limits with this problem, the minister added. The decision could "actually be made solely by the attending physicians according to medical considerations".

Despite the Corona pandemic, the Ministry of Health, led by CDU politician Jens Spahn, apparently sees no need to regulate by law which patient should receive medical care first in the event of insufficient treatment capacity. "There is no need for legislative action on these medical ies," reads a ministry response to a Green Party question.

"Doing everything possible to avoid conflict situations"

Triage is about who gets medical resources necessary for survival when they are not available for all patients. In Italy, France or Spain, doctors were forced to do this at times in view of the high number of Corona patients and the lack of ventilators.

Lambrecht said in the interview: "We are doing everything we can to ensure that the infection rates remain such that these conflict situations do not arise." For the same reasons, she said, she opposes the theory of herd immunity, which requires 60 to 70 percent of the population to be infected.

"One can calculate how many would then be dependent on ventilators and intensive care beds. Quite apart from the fact that the success of this path must be doubted," said the SPD politician.

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