Idaho allows hospitals overwhelmed by COVID patients to start rationing health care

An ICU nurse in Boise.
(Image credit: AP Photo/Kyle Green, File)

Amid a surge in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that are overwhelming medical facilities, the Idaho Department of Health and Wellness on Thursday announced that the state is experiencing a hospital resource crisis, and strained hospitals are allowed to ration health care.

Under crisis standards of care, hospitals are able to determine how to prioritize care based on patients doctors believe have the best chances of survival. "In other words, someone who is otherwise healthy and would recover more rapidly may get treated or have access to a ventilator before someone who is not likely to recover," the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said.

It's a "dire" situation, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement. "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."

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Idaho saw the second largest per capita increase in the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients over the last week, second to West Virginia, data compiled by The Washington Post shows. The highly contagious Delta variant has been fueling the surge in cases, especially in areas with low vaccination rates.

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