North Carolina's medical professionals have been advised to prepare for a flu pandemic and to focus on who will be treated and who won't if the illness overwhelms them.
The Task Force on Ethics and Pandemic Influenza Planning met
recently to talk about a strong set of ethical guidelines for the state's doctors and nurses. The list would help them decide who gets priority for medical care in the face of a wave of flu-stricken patients that would rapidly outstrip the supply of hospital beds, medicine and equipment.
Hospitals across North Carolina are already at 85 percent to 90
percent capacity, and even a mild pandemic would force doctors and
nurses to ration medicine and equipment. Medical authorities say the next flu pandemic is long overdue and inevitable, based on the history of three deadly outbreaks in the 20th century.
The latest was the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968.