The Federal government is investigating complaints from advocates that some states are formulating plans to ration ventilators and other crucial treatments for COVID-19 that they say discriminate againest people with disabilities. There is currently NO Federal policy or recommendations on how to allocate resources so many state health departments and health systems are formulating their own policies.
In Detroit, a leaked contingency plan suggested they deny ventilators to people with cancers and other chronic diseases.
In Washington State, a complaint was files alleging illegal Disabilty discrimination that is putting the lives of people with disabilities at imminent risk/death during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is in violation of federal Disabilty right laws, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADC)' and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
DECISIONS ABOUT HOW TREATMENTS SHOULD BE ALLOCATED MUST BE MADE BASED ON INDIVIDUAL DETERMINATIONS.
TREATMENT ALLOCATION DECISIONS CANNOT BE MADE BASED ON MISGUIDED ASSUMPTIONS THAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES EXPERIENCE A LOWER QUALITY OF LIFE OR THAT THEIR LIVES ARE NOT WORTH LIVING.
TREATMENT ALLOCATION DECISIONS CANNOT BE BASED ON THE PERCEPTIONS THAT A PERSON WITH A DISABILITY HAS A LOWER PROSPECT OF SURVIVAL.
A recent study of medical discrimination tactics againest the disabled showed persistant bias by medical providers. There was a failure of providers to fully appreciate the value and quality of life in the disabled. Many patients were denied treatment based on the biases and views of the non-disabled physician's idea of what is valuable.
One physician responded; "In general, what I was taught in medical school and in my training is that Disabilty-no matter what form-is a BAD thing and should be avoided AT ALL COSTS. We are not taught that their lives can be rich and valuable."
In a recent medical study, physicians showed negative outlooks and open hostility to people with disabilities, some who refuse to provide treatment. A quarter (25%) of doctors refused to schedule an appointment to patients who use wheelchairs. Some of these physicians even believe the concepts of dignity and rights do not apply to them.
In Alabama, hospitals are refusing to offer ventilator support to people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities, mental retardation, dementia, brain injuries.
Disability and bioethics scholar William Peace states he was approached by a doctor who offered him a way to die. The physician assumed my disablity is a fate worse than death. William wrote "A highly educated person, who should be free of bias and bigotry, deems your very existence, your life, to be unworthy of living."
The pervasiveness of negative views of Disabilty amoung physicians cannot be understated.
In Tennessee, guidelines excludes people with advanced neuromuscular diseases, people who require assistance with activities of daily living, patients who require ventilator support, metastatic cancers, dementia and brain injuries.
A Tennessee native, Jean Marie Lawrence was born with Muscular Dystrophy. She is 33 years old and relies on a ventilator.for 12 to 20 hours a day. She works 40 hours a week, volunteers, and lives independently. But because Jean Marie has Muscular Dystrophy and is ventilator dependent, Tennessee's medical rationing guidelines excludes her from recieving COVID-19 treatment. Jean Marie shares, "Tennessee is saying my life is worthless. One may view my life as untraditional but it is worth every bit as much as yours."
We must protect patients with pre-existing conditions, disabilities, those with limited English skills, older patients and religious accommodations to the sick and dying for last rites.
Posts: 2017 | From Florida | Registered: Nov 2016
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Thank you for putting this together Bonnie. These are serious incidents that are left unaddressed.
Anyone have input as to why this topic receives so little attention? I think it is a foundational attitude in terms of the correct approach to illness and civil rights.
Posts: 82 | From North East | Registered: Mar 2011
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With all that's going on, I came to read today to see what you smart people are sharing. This is so disturbing. Thank you for assembling this excellent information Bonnie.
Posts: 463 | From USA | Registered: Feb 2002
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