COVID-19 Q&A: Crisis Standards of Care

Idaho activated Crisis Standards of Care for the entire state on Thursday, Sept. 16.

What are crisis standards of care?

Crisis standards of care are guidelines that help healthcare providers and healthcare systems decide how to deliver the best care possible under the extraordinary circumstances of a disaster or a public health emergency.

The goal of crisis standards of care is to save as many lives as possible. They guide decisions made by hospitals about how to allocate scarce resources, such as hospital beds, medications, or ventilators.

How would crisis standards of care affect me and my care?

When crisis standards of care are in effect, people who need medical care may experience care that is different from what they expect.

For example, patients admitted to a hospital may find there are no hospital beds or that beds have been set up in other rooms or hallways. In some extreme circumstances, ventilator or intensive care unit beds may need to be used for those who are most likely to survive, while patients who are not likely to survive may not be able to receive one.

The goal in all cases is to provide the best medical care possible with the resources that are available and to save the greatest number of lives.

Has Idaho ever had to activate crisis standards of care before?

No. This is the first time crisis standards of care have ever been activated in the state.

Is there a universal “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order in the crisis standards of care guidelines?

No. CSC implementation by a hospital doesn’t necessarily mean the hospital will be applying universal DNR.

The guidance for universal DNR is a strategy for hospitals to consider when operating under crisis standards of care and prioritizing access to ventilators because the demand for ventilators exceeds supply.

Universal DNR, if enacted, would notapply to pediatric patients.

This guidance can be considered by each hospital when resources are extremely scarce or unavailable as a way to save the most lives for patients with the best chance for survival, since the likelihood of survival after a cardiac arrest is low for adult patients.  

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov. 

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