Coronavirus warning: Prepare for difficult conversations and decisions in coming weeks | Science | News

Coronavirus warning: Prepare for difficult conversations and decisions in coming weeks | Science | News 45

While the UK, among other countries, has been put into lockdown over the spread of COVID-19, health officials warn we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg and it is bound to get a lot worse. Hospitals will be overrun and there will not be enough supplies to go around when the crisis reaches its peak, a leading doctor has warned.

He also said everyone should get their affairs in order before its too late.

Dominic Wilson, Consultant Neonatologist and Professor of Ethics at the University of Oxford, has said not only do we need to outline how we wish to deal with the virus individually, but also how we want healthcare professionals to deal with us if the worst does happen.

Dr Wilson wrote in an article for The Conversation: “These conversations are to support our families and the doctors looking after us.

“They are crucial for people who are at higher risk of becoming unwell with the virus, for example, those who have a chronic illness or are older.

“They are also relevant for those who are middle aged and otherwise healthy, since the simple fact is that some of us will become life-threateningly ill.

“First, if you were to become seriously ill with coronavirus, what would be most important?

“What would be your top priority? (And your second priority, if the first isn’t possible?)

“Second, what is concerning you the most about becoming seriously ill? What are you most worried about?

“And, third, if you became seriously ill, what outcomes would be unacceptable to you, what would you be willing to sacrifice – and not sacrifice?”

Dr Wilson adds that when in hospital, many doctors and nurses may offer a ‘trial period’ of medication and care to understand better what is working and what is not.

However, he says that it is important to know when to give up that trial period.

Dr Wilson continued: “In the face of this crisis, doctors and nurses and healthcare teams in the NHS should and will do their utmost. Every patient will be cared for.

“But some treatments may have no chance of helping, they may be highly burdensome, unpleasant and invasive.

“Or even if they could be helpful, they simply may not be available. It is important to understand that in the coming weeks some treatments will be in critically short supply.

“We can and should hope that treatments will be available for us when we need them. But we cannot take more than our fair share.

“If our health service has provided a ‘trial period’ of treatment for us and the treatment isn’t working, the treatment may need to stop so that someone else can benefit from it.

“These are intensely worrying times. It is hard to know what lies ahead for any of us.

“We should definitely hope for the best, but it is also important to have some conversations with our families now – so that we may all plan for the worst. Just in case.”


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