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Hospitals in Ontario may not have to use triage protocol, memo says

Overstretched hospitals in Ontario may not have to use a triage protocol that would enable doctors to decide who gets life-saving care and who doesn't, according to a new memo.

Critical Care COVID-19 Command Centre 'increasingly confident' protocol can be avoided

Overstretched hospitals in Ontario may not have to use a triage protocol that would enable doctors to decide who gets life-saving care and who doesn't, according to a new memo. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Overstretched hospitals in Ontario may not have to use a triage protocol that would enable doctors to decide who gets life-saving care and who doesn't amid the third wave of the pandemic, according to a new memo.

In the letter to hospital CEOs dated May 2, Andrew Baker, incident commander of the Ontario Critical Care COVID-19 Command Centre, says projections from the province's science advisory table are "very concerning," although the estimated number of ICU patients due to COVID-19 is lower than estimated two weeks ago.

"I also wanted to share with you and your teams that we are increasingly confident that we will not need to activate the Emergency Standard of Care, or recommend the use of the Triage Protocol," Baker writes.

Activating a triage would mean the hardest decisions health-care providers ever face will have to be made. These decisions include who gets potentially life-saving care and who doesn't.

Ontario has prepared a triage protocol for deciding who gets life-saving care when the time comes that there are more patients in need of critical care than ICU beds.

In the memo, Baker asks hospitals to put into operation 284 ICU beds and be prepared to receive patients transferred from other hospitals. Patients will continue to be transferred from one hospital to the next if needed.

The command centre will continue to monitor whether local or regional major growth in the number of cases warrants "further capacity building measures," he added.

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