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Setting Health-Care PrioritiesWhat Ethical Theories Tell Us$
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Torbjörn Tännsjö

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190946883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190946883.001.0001

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Triage in Situations of Mass Casualty

Triage in Situations of Mass Casualty

(p.103) 10 Triage in Situations of Mass Casualty
Setting Health-Care Priorities

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

In situations of mass casualty there is a need to tend to the medical supply side. We must contemplate whether, by saving one person rather than another, we affect the medical resources available to us. Should medical personnel be tended to first if this means that those who are saved first can go on to save other lives? When resources are scare, should younger patients be treated rather than old ones? The unexpectedly similar implications of the three theories of distributive justice in situations of mass casualty are presented. Here a discussion is also undertaken about equity and the idea that we should save as many lives as possible. Does it make sense to flip a coin when you decide about priority setting in a triage situation? Could saving as many lives as possible work as a proxy for utilitarian thinking? Both the equity view and the idea that one should save as many lives as possible are rejected. It is argued that we should rely on our favoured theories: utilitarianism (with or without a prioritarian amendment), the maximin/leximin theory, and egalitarianism.

Keywords:   triage, equity, emergency, saving of lives

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