Only 26 US states give guidance on allocating ventilators

Only half of U.S. states offer public guidance on how to allocate mechanical ventilators during a public health emergency, a new study shows.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, involves a review of publicly available guidelines about ventilator allocation in all U.S. states and in the District of Columbia. Researchers used state department of health websites and internet searches to examine ventilator allocation recommendations.

As of May 10, 26 states had publicly available ventilator guidelines. Only 14 states had ventilator guidelines for pediatric patients.

Researchers also found that guidelines in six states recommended assessing limited life expectancy from underlying conditions or comorbidities when deciding ventilator allocation.

Researchers warned that state guidelines varied significantly and "could cause inequity" in ventilator allocation during a public health emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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