Idaho expands crisis standards of care statewide

Sept. 17, 2021

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has activated “crisis standards of care” (CSC), or rationing, statewide because of a massive increase in patients with COVID-19 requiring hospitalization, according to a news release.

CSC was activated on Sept. 6 in Northern Idaho.

“The situation is dire — we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” said Idaho DHW Director Dave Jeppesen.

Although DHW has activated CSC, hospitals will implement it as needed and according to their own CSC policies. However, not all hospitals will move to that standard of care. If they are managing under their current circumstances, they can continue to do so.

In a news release, the department said, “When crisis standards of care are in effect, people who need medical care may get care that is different from what they expect. For example, patients admitted to the hospital may find that hospital beds are not available or are in repurposed rooms (such as a conference room) or that needed equipment is not available.”

“In rare cases, ventilator (breathing machines) or intensive care unit (ICU) 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 department said in a document with answers to frequently asked questions.

The process to initiate crisis standards of care began when resources were limited to the point of affecting medical care. DHW Director Jeppesen convened the Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee on Sept. 15, 2021, to review all the measures that were taken to provide care for the increased number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization. The committee determined that the ability of all Idaho hospitals and healthcare systems to deliver the usual standard of care has been severely affected by the extraordinary influx of patients, and all contingency measures have been exhausted. The committee recommended to the director that crisis standards of care be activated statewide. Director Jeppesen issued his decision on Sept. 16, 2021, under the authority vested in him through the temporary rule.

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