Hospitals receive guidelines for catastrophe situation operations

Medical tent set up outside of PERH.
Medical tent set up outside of PERH. Source: ERR

Hospitals received guidelines on Monday for how they should operate in a potential catastrophe situation.

In an appearance on ETV's "Ringvaade" on Monday night, North Estonia Medical Center (PERH) Intensive Care Department director and ethics committee member Kristo Erikson explained that the document in question includes expert opinions and recommendations for catastrophe situations. He added, however, that he believed the situation in Estonia is good right now.

"In that regard, Estonia is currently in a relatively good situation; we had the opportunity to calmly think ahead and be supportive of doctors in their everyday work, should a catastrophe situation arise," Erikson said, confirming that all patients needing care are also currently receiving it.

"We hope that this will continue during the COVID-19 epidemic as well, and that we won't have any problems with this," he added, explaining that catastrophe situation means the number of patients significantly exceeding hospitals' capacity.

According to the ethics committee member, the document in question does not contain guidelines regarding whether and how to prioritize the provision of care in a catastrophe situation.

"We have not included such guidelines," he said. "We have explained working in catastrophe conditions; treatment guidelines will remain treatment guidelines. This is an explanatory document which provides an indication of how hospitals could operate in a catastrophe situation in such a manner that we maintain patients' human dignity while also being capable of managing stress on our part."

Erikson explained that in catastrophe situations, treatment outcomes are more closely monitored, and the goal is to provide the best possible treatment outcomes for as many people as possible.

"That means that we're not looking purely at single individuals, but rather monitoring that we're capable of ensuring the best possible results for as many people as possible," he said.

He also confirmed that in a catastrophe situation, patients diagnosed with COVID-19 would not be favored over other patients in need of rapid intervention.

While the number of patients infected with the coronavirus to end up hospitalized hasn't sharply increased recently, according to Erikson, that does not mean that the virus has yet begun to retreat  in Estonia.

He also stressed that the country can avoid ending up in a catastrophe situation if everyone adheres to rules implemented by the government.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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