Leaked Henry Ford letter outlines care rationing plans

Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System developed a policy on how to ration care in case the system runs out of ventilators and intensive care unit beds, reports NPR affiliate Michigan Radio.

Henry Ford outlines the policy in a draft letter meant for patients and their families that was leaked online March 26. The policy is not active and simply represents part of Henry Ford's emergency response planning, a spokesperson told Michigan Radio.

The letter outlines a potential grim reality health systems nationwide are anticipating as a worst-case scenario: the need to prioritize care for some patients over others.

"Patients who have the best chance of getting better are our first priority," Henry Ford wrote in the letter. "Patients will be evaluated for the best plan for care, and dying patients will be provided comfort care."

The letter says that patients with conditions like severe heart failure or terminal cancer may be ineligible for critical care. Patients who are put on ventilators or receive intensive care may have treatment withdrawn if they don't show signs of improvement.

The policy aims to provide crucial guidance for healthcare workers who may be forced to make difficult patient care decisions as the pandemic progresses, according to Adnan Munkarah, MD, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Henry Ford.

"We were pleased to share our policy with our colleagues across Michigan to help others develop similar, compassionate approaches," he said in a statement cited by Michigan Radio. "It is our hope we never have to apply them, and we will always do everything we can to care for our patients, utilizing every resource we have to make that happen."

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