The medical decision: Who will live and who will die?

Allocating scarce medical treatment can mean deciding between who lives and who dies.


Doctor (illustration)
Doctor (illustration)
Photo: iStock

As COVID-19 cases spread across the country, tripling every three days in hot zones like New York City, medical professionals are preparing to make painful decisions forcing them to ration life-saving treatments.

But how do they decide who should have, or stay connected to, a respirator? Or who can get a scarce ICU bed? Or how long they can stay in one when someone else is waiting?

Dr. Philip Rosoff, professor emeritus at Duke University, talks about how these decisions might be made and the effect it has on the community and the physician.