Out of the 58 reported deaths due to the coronavirus in the Netherlands, only 14 actually made it into intensive care, according to Diederik Gommers, chairman of the Dutch Association for Intensive Care (NVIC) in de Volkskrant. 

Gommers notes that this can partly be attributed to the patients and the families concerned, deciding not to send the infected person to the ICU due to age or severity of condition.

What’s going on here?

For instance, if the patient is old, has a serious heart condition and is in poor health, the doctors may consult with families and advise that it may not be useful for them to be treated in intensive care.

Bert Berden, the chairman of the board of Elisabeth-TweeSteden Hospital (ETZ) in Tilburg and chairman of the Regional Consultative Committee on Acute Care (ROAZ) in Brabant told de Volkskrant that nursing homes must extremely carefully consider whether or not they would like to send a patient to the hospital and thereby the ICU, as ‘an 85-plus person with the coronavirus may never be able to function independently again. The question is: what value have you added to someone’s life of you send them to the ICU?’

These decisions are always done with respect to the wishes of the person in question and their family. So far, however, ICUs in the Netherlands are still capable of accepting people who have been affected by the virus. But given the spread of the coronavirus across the country in the past two weeks (2051 total cases as of yesterday) this may soon change.

Furthermore, it appears as of supplies are beginning to run short – just yesterday a delivery of mouth masks from three Chinese airlines was made, as a shortage was underway in the Netherlands.

Patients that require ventilators will often need to remain in the ICU for over a week, a long time given the growth of cases and there might be a point in which hospitals will need to select which patients they can take in. As difficult as it is, deciding not to send patients to intensive care could reduce the flow to hospitals.

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More information about COVID-19

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