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resuscitators fear having to sort patients and make “sacrifices”

The epidemic situation continues to deteriorate in France in recent days. In three regions, Île de France, Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, hospital pressure is maximum, with an occupancy rate of intensive care beds that goes well beyond 100% of initial capacities. In Seine-Saint-Denis, the situation is even catastrophic. So much so that doctors fear they will have to make choices between intensive care patients with Covid-19 in the coming days. “This is what we have been urged to do for several weeks and I am afraid that we will get there,” laments Professor Yves Cohen, Friday on Europe 1.

“Patients who will be sacrificed”

“Clearly, these are patients who will be sacrificed”, already regrets this head of the intensive care unit at the CHU Avicenne in Bobigny, in Seine-Saint-Denis, as to this possible option. “We are resuscitators, we fight for life. Choices like that, not to take a patient because there is a lack of beds, it is unbearable for us.”

For the moment, Yves Cohen is seeing massive influxes of patients in serious conditions in recent days. In his hospital, there are usually 16 intensive care beds. By pushing the walls, he opened at the beginning of October 16 more. Then eight more a month ago. And it will go up to 46 intensive care beds this weekend. But he knows he will not be able to do more and his fear is now to have to “choose the patients”. “When we have two patients and one bed, we will have to take a single patient. There will be a choice of patients to be made and, unfortunately, that means that it will be a sacrifice for one of the patients.”

Hold on … but until when?

In Paris, a few kilometers from Bobigny, there are still some possibilities for Bruno Mégarbane, head of intensive care at the Lariboisière hospital, to avoid reaching such an end. To open more beds, this caregiver evokes the options of deprogramming more non-urgent operations, of training nursing students and “to establish areas outside the resuscitation of patients who would be treated by high-flow oxygenators”. For Bruno Mégarbane, it “would be a degraded situation in relation to optimal care”, but that “would avoid selecting at the start of intensive care for patients” in serious conditions.

Still, with constantly increasing contaminations and measures that are not restrictive enough according to them, doctors are wondering how long they will be able to hold out … before making painful choices.

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