German court rules that the disabled must get fair triage treatment
BERLIN: Germany's constitutional court ruled on Tuesday (Dec 28) that lawmakers must protect people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions to ensure they are not discriminated against if overstretched hospitals are forced to decide who gets care.
According to the decision, the constitution, which stipulates that people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against, was violated by the lack of government provisions to ensure fair treatment of disabled people if hospitals have to prioritise.
The court ruled that lawmakers must act "without delay" to set out legally binding criteria to protect vulnerable people, but it did not say how that should be done.
Nine people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions filed the complaints at the court in Karlsruhe, as the coronavirus pandemic pushes hospitals to their limits.
The complainants, who point out that they are at high risk of becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19, fear that due to their statistically lower level of survival, they would always have lowest priority for an intensive care bed.
Guidelines from German medical organisations including the DIVI association for emergency medicine have identified probability of survival, taking into account the patient's frailty and existing diseases, as the main criterion for triage.
The court rejected the case in July 2020, saying that regulating medical prioritisation raised difficult questions, and that a triage situation did not seem likely.
Germany is bracing for a fifth wave of coronavirus infections as the Omicron variant takes a foothold.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease reported 21,080 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, for a total of 7,026,369.
According to the RKI's latest figures, as of Monday, 19.4 per cent of adult intensive care beds were occupied by patients with COVID-19.Germany to tighten COVID-19 restrictions before New Year Germany considers contact restrictions to soften blow from Omicron wave Germany tightens COVID-19 travel restrictions on UK BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments