Newswise – ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A recent comment by five US psychologists urges healthcare providers to stand up for the rights of patients with disabilities during the pandemic.
The authors state that people with disabilities are not only more susceptible to exposure and complications from the COVID-19 virus, but also concerns about access to adequate treatment for the virus and the decision-making behind medical rationing.
“We hope that care options for COVID-19 such as mechanical ventilators and intensive care beds will not need to be rationed, but there have certainly been concerns about a shortage of life-saving devices during the pandemic,” said Carrie Pilarski, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine and author of the comment. “This is increasingly worrying for the disabled community. Would they be overlooked in treatments when it comes to medical rationing?”
Pilarski and her co-authors discuss the perceptions people might have of the disabled community, explain medical rationing, and offer approaches to prioritizing patients.
“People may not realize that medical rationing like organ transplants is already taking place and who is eligible,” Pilarski says. “We explain the different methods that can be used in medical rationing and how the most important element in any method chosen is transparency. Decision-making, the ability to appeal and the procedures for reviewing decisions must be transparent. “
The authors also encourage health care providers, particularly their fellow psychologists, to advocate social justice for people with disabilities during the pandemic and in health care in general.
“Healthcare providers should demand transparency about pandemic preparedness plans and medical rationing approaches,” Pilarski said. “Disabilities are part of diversity and not an indicator of whether or not someone should receive life-saving treatment.”