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SHA creating guidelines so healthcare system can triage coronavirus patients

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WATCH: The Saskatchewan Health Authority is preparing guidelines on how health care workers will triage coronavirus patients – Apr 1, 2020

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is preparing guidelines on how health care workers will make decisions on resources and care if there’s an influx of COVID-19 patients.

“These guides are based on principles that are also considered for planning during normal times, and are included in the SHA framework,” the authority said In a written statement.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan reports first COVID-19 deaths

The health authority said the guidelines aren’t meant to be unpredictable or arbitrary and values are to be applied consistently to patients needing care.

The statement said the goal of the guide is to “ensure ethical practices are fairly applied to patients while also alleviating some of the burden on physicians and other members of the team associated with making decisions.”

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“In times of scarcity, decision-making principles shift from individual benefit to societal benefit,” it read.

The province has around 330 ventilators and more than 100 ICU beds.

Last week, a leaked SHA document showed the province’s worst-case scenario projected 15,000 people would need intensive care spaces.

READ MORE: Leaked SHA document shows worst-case scenario outcome of coronavirus in Saskatchewan

A University of Saskatchewan professor, who teaches biomedical ethics, said doctors could be put in hard positions with a lack of resources across the country.

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Prof. Will Buschert believes if Saskatchewan ends up in a state similar to Italy, the health system may be forced into using these guidelines.

“In the worst-case scenario, what might be especially challenging for physicians and health-care workers is having to make a decision to withdraw treatment that might still be beneficial to a patient on the grounds that it might be more beneficial to another patient,” he said.

On March 30, the province announced the first deaths in Saskatchewan due to complications from COVID-19.

As of that date, there were 176 confirmed cases across the province, with 84 of those in Saskatoon.

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The SHA expects the guide to be completed later this week.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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