During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, practitioners had to make tragic decisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources in the ICU. The Italian debate has paid a lot of attention to identifying the specific regulatory criteria for the allocation of resources in the ICU; in this paper, however, we argue that deciding such criteria is not enough for the implementation of fair and transparent allocative decisions. In this respect, we discuss three ethical issues: (a) in the Italian context, the treating physician, rather than a separate committee, was generally the one responsible for the allocation decision; (b) although many allocative guidelines have supported moral equivalence between withholding and withdrawing treatments, some health professionals have continued to consider it a morally problematic aspect; and (c) the health workers who have had to make the aforementioned decisions or even only worked in ICU during the pandemic often experienced moral distress. We conclude by arguing that, even if these problems are not directly related to the above-mentioned issues of distributive justice, they can nevertheless directly affect the quality and ethics of the implementation of allocative criteria, regardless of those chosen.

Deciding the Criteria Is Not Enough: Moral Issues to Consider for a Fair Allocation of Scarce ICU Resources

Battisti, D;Picozzi, M
2022-01-01

Abstract

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, practitioners had to make tragic decisions regarding the allocation of scarce resources in the ICU. The Italian debate has paid a lot of attention to identifying the specific regulatory criteria for the allocation of resources in the ICU; in this paper, however, we argue that deciding such criteria is not enough for the implementation of fair and transparent allocative decisions. In this respect, we discuss three ethical issues: (a) in the Italian context, the treating physician, rather than a separate committee, was generally the one responsible for the allocation decision; (b) although many allocative guidelines have supported moral equivalence between withholding and withdrawing treatments, some health professionals have continued to consider it a morally problematic aspect; and (c) the health workers who have had to make the aforementioned decisions or even only worked in ICU during the pandemic often experienced moral distress. We conclude by arguing that, even if these problems are not directly related to the above-mentioned issues of distributive justice, they can nevertheless directly affect the quality and ethics of the implementation of allocative criteria, regardless of those chosen.
2022
allocative decisions; clinical practice; COVID-19; withholding and withdrawing moral distinction; moral distress; decision-making responsibility
Battisti, D; Picozzi, M
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
philosophies-pubblished.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale (PDF)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 244.02 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
244.02 kB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/2147271
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 1
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 1
social impact