Background: The Authors have laid out an analysis of Italian COVID-19 confirmed data and fatality rates, pointing out how a dearth of health care resources in northern regions has resulted in hard, ethically challenging decisions in terms of granting patient access to intensive care units (ICU). Main text: Having to make such decisions certainly entails substantial difficulties, and that has led many health care professional to seek ethical guidance. The Italian Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) has attempted to meet that growing need by a set of recommendations, applying “clinical soundness” as a beacon standard; that approach tends to prioritize patients with higher life expectancy, which could be characterized as a “moderately utilitarian” approach. Yet, such a selection has engendered daunting ethical quandaries. The authors believe it can only be warranted and acceptable if rooted in a transparent decision-making process and verifiable, reviewed criteria. Moreover, the authors have stressed how clinical experimentation in a pandemic setting is a subtext of great interest from an ethical perspective. In Italy, no drug therapy and trials were undertaken for COVID-19 patients for a rather long period of time. When the epidemic was already circulating, an intervention proved necessary on the system of administrative procedures, aimed at expediting the authorization and validation of protocols, then bogged down by bureaucracy. A new system has since been instituted by a government decree that was signed about one month after the first Covid-19 case was officially recorded in the country. Such a swift implementation, which took just a few weeks, is noteworthy and proves that clinical trials can be initiated in a timely fashion, even with a pandemic unfolding. The concerted, action of supportive care and RCTs is the only way to attain effective forms of treatments for COVID-19 and any other future outbreak. Conclusions: The authors have arrived at the conclusion that the most effective and ethically sound response on the part of any national health care system would be to adequately reconfigure its organizational mechanisms, by making clinical trials and all related administrative procedures consistent with the current state of emergency.
Intensive and pharmacological care in times of COVID-19: A “special ethics” for emergency? / Marinelli, E.; Busardo, F. P.; Zaami, S.. - In: BMC MEDICAL ETHICS. - ISSN 1472-6939. - 21:1(2020), p. 117. [10.1186/s12910-020-00562-7]