Operation of a triage committee for advanced life support during the COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract

BackgroundDuring the first weeks of March 2020 in Spain, the cases of severe respiratory failure progressively increased, generating an imbalance between the clinical needs for advanced life support measures and the effective availability of ALS resources. To address this problem, the creation of triage committees was proposed, whose main function is to select the best candidates to receive ALS. The main objective of our study is to describe the clinical characteristics of the patients evaluated by the TC of the Alcorcón Foundation University Hospital during the first wave of SARS CoV-2. Other objectives are to determine if there are differences between the patients considered candidates / not candidates for ALS and to analyze the functioning of the TC.MethodsRetrospective observational study of all patients assessed by the AFUH TC.ResultsThere were 19 meetings, in which 181 patients were evaluated, 65.4% male and with a mean age of 70.1 years. 31% had some degree of functional dependence, the Barthel median was 100 and Charlson 4. 58.5% were not considered a candidate for ALS at that time. The patients considered candidates to receive ALS were younger, had less comorbidity and had a better previous functional situation. A median of 5 physicians participated in each meeting and, after being assessed by the TC, 13.6% received ALS: 29.3% of those considered candidates for ALS and 2% of the non-candidates.ConclusionsThe patients evaluated by the TC had a mean age of 70 years, high comorbidity and almost a third had some degree of functional dependence. More than half were not considered candidates for ALS at that time, these patients being older, with more comorbidity and a worse previous functional situation. TC decisions, based on objective clinical criteria, were almost always respected. Public institutions must get involved in triage procedures, which should and in our opinion must include the creation of TC in health centers. The implementation of Anticipated Decision programs would help enable patients affected by triage decisions to participate in them.

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