'A physician's nightmare': New Mexico hospitals likely to get OK to ration care

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham will likely implement a measure this week that would allow hospitals to move to "crisis standards," and ration care based on patients' chances of survival, The Washington Post reports. 

"That's a physician's nightmare," Jason Mitchell, MD, CMO at Albuquerque, N.M.,-based Presbyterian Healthcare Services, told the Post. "We want to save every life we can." 

The implementation of crisis standards of care would allow hospitals to switch to a uniform guide for triaging care, leaving each hospital to decide whether the shift is necessary.

"It means we may have to share equipment like ventilators. It may mean people are in tents outside in the parking lots in hospital-type MASH units," Dr. Mitchell said during a local news conference in October. "It is a time when you have other healthcare needs like the birth of a child, a car accident or any other emergency (and) you may not have a place to go." 

It's a measure that the governor, with rigid COVID-19 restrictions, said she has worked hard to avoid. But the state's spiraling COVID-19 hospitalizations have put immense pressure on the healthcare system and have led to a scarcity of intensive care unit beds, leaving few other options, local health experts told the Post. 

As of Dec. 6, 919 patients in New Mexico were hospitalized with COVID-19, according to The Atlantic's COVID-19 Tracking Project. A total of 1,232 new coronavirus cases were reported Dec. 6. New Mexico has 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 population, making it among the lowest in the U.S. 

More articles on public health:
Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, state by state: Dec. 7
5 states with most flu activity, per CDC's Fluview report
25 states where COVID-19 is spreading fastest, slowest: Dec. 7


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