WEDNESDAY, March 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Determining where to allocate stockpiled ventilators during a pandemic should be based on consideration of ethical principles, the ability of facilities to absorb additional ventilators, and the ability to ensure access for vulnerable or high-risk populations, according to an article published online March 19 in Health Security.
Lisa M. Koonin, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., from Health Preparedness Partners in Atlanta, and colleagues discuss strategies to assist state and local planners to allocate stockpiled ventilators to health care facilities during a pandemic, while taking into account critical factors in a facility's ability to make use of additional ventilators.
The researchers note that public health officials should identify and query health care facilities in their jurisdiction to establish an existing inventory of ventilators and each facility's ability to absorb additional ventilators; this should form part of the pandemic preparedness. Sufficient staff, space, equipment, and supplies should be available to utilize allocated ventilators adequately. Before making allocation decisions, jurisdictions will need to check and update information on each facility's capacity. During a pandemic, ethical principles should be considered to inform state and local plans for ventilator allocation. In addition, decisions should be informed by assessment of need, determination of whether facilities can use additional ventilators, and their capacity to ensure ventilator access for vulnerable or high-risk populations that may be more susceptible to illness.
"Having strategies for allocating scarce resources like ventilators in advance may improve decision making, with the understanding that plans will need to adapt to the realities presented during a pandemic response," the authors write.