Reverse Triage and People Whose Disabilities Render Them Dependent on Ventilators

Etikk I Praksis - Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics 2:49-61 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The COVID-19 pandemic has occasioned a great deal of ethical reflection both in general and on the issue of reverse triage; a practice that effectively reallocates resources from one patient to another on the basis of the latter having a more favourable clinical prognosis. This paper addresses a specific concern that has arisen in relation to such proposals: the potential reallocation of ventilators relied upon by disabled or chronically ill patients. This issue is examined via three morally parallel scenarios. First, the standard reallocation of a ventilator in accordance with reverse triage protocols; second, the reallocation of a personal ventilator from a chronically ill patient ordinarily reliant on it; and, third, the reallocation of a personal ventilator owned by a financially privileged individual but who is not ordinarily reliant on it. This paper suggests that whilst property rights cannot resolve these scenarios in a satisfactory manner, it may be possible to do so if we draw on the resources of phenomenology. However, in contradistinction to a recent paper on this topic, we argue that ethical claims to ventilators are not well grounded by the overly demanding notion that they are embodied objects. We suggest that the alternative phenomenological notion of homelikeness provides for a more plausible resolution of the issue. The personal ventilators of individuals who commonly rely upon them become part of their ordinary, everyday or homelike being. They are a necessary part of the continuation or maintenance of their basic state of health or wellbeing and the reallocation of such objects is unethical. Keywords: Phenomenology, COVID-19, Pandemic, Triage, Reverse triage, Ventilation, Chronic illness, Allocation of resources.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 93,098

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Triage and the patient with renal failure.V. Parsons & P. Lock - 1980 - Journal of Medical Ethics 6 (4):173-176.
Emergency department mental health triage scales improve outcomes.Marc Broadbent, Heather Jarman & Michael Berk - 2004 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 10 (1):57-62.


Added to PP

29 (#569,467)

6 months
9 (#355,374)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Nathan Emmerich
Queen's University, Belfast (PhD)
Pat McConville
Monash University (PhD)

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Absent Body.Drew Leder - 1990 - University of Chicago Press.
Phenomenology of Illness.Havi Carel - 2016 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Phenomenology and its application in medicine.Havi Carel - 2010 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1):33-46.

View all 22 references / Add more references