Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors call for guidance on how to prioritise critically ill patients in swine flu pandemic

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 29 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3092
  1. Rebecca Coombes
  1. 1London

    “Extraordinary pressure” is expected on critical care beds this autumn, as the A/H1N1 influenza pandemic is set to enter a severe phase. However, the Department of Health has yet to clarify how it plans to meet demand, according to a House of Lords report this week.

    Peers also questioned whether clinicians felt confident about the legal consequences of making difficult triage decisions as the demand for critical care beds intensifies.

    The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee heard in May from the then health secretary, Alan Johnson, who confirmed that strategies would be introduced to boost intensive care capacity, including suspending elective procedures that need intensive care after operation. Ian Dalton, the national director of NHS Flu Resilience, the flu tsar, said that a doubling of critical care facilities would be possible “under a severe attack phase.”

    But Bruce Taylor, consultant in intensive care medicine at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, told the …

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