New Mexico paves way for hospitals to activate crisis standards

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New Mexico has activated crisis standards of care for healthcare facilities across the state, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The state's crisis standards of care were activated Oct. 18 because "the COVID-19 pandemic has placed enormous, ongoing and unsustainable strain on the state's healthcare system. In particular, the volume of COVID-19 patients — almost all of whom are unvaccinated — have exacerbated existing staffing and other resource shortages," the New Mexico Department of Health said in a news release shared with Becker's.

Crisis standards of care give healthcare providers a framework to use to make patient care decisions during a disaster or public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals may decide on their own when to engage crisis standards of care.

Under crisis standards of care, facilities in New Mexico will use a more standardized and equitable procedure for making difficult decisions about who gets care when resources are strained, state officials said. Before a facility reaches this point, they said facilities must temporarily suspend procedures that are not medically necessary. Additionally, if hospitals need to move into crisis standards, the state will extend legal protections to providers who move to higher levels of care, said state officials.

"Because of COVID, New Mexico hospitals and healthcare facilities have carried an unmanageable burden. Today, the state is offering clarity and support as providers seek to make difficult choices about how to allocate scarce — and precious — healthcare resources. The goals, as always, remain the same: to save as many New Mexican lives as possible and to help sustain the healthcare providers who have sustained our communities throughout this entire pandemic," New Mexico Department of Health Acting Secretary David Scrase, MD, said in a news release.  

New Mexico activated crisis standards of care the same day the state announced 1,895 additional COVID-19 cases and 300 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, based on data from Oct. 16, 17 and 18. 

The state also enacted crisis standards of care in December, according to the Albuquerque Journal

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