Engaging the Community and Health Care Providers to Help Prioritize the Allocation of Scarce Medical Resources

Mar 31, 2014

The H1N1 pandemic of 2009-2010 has resurfaced in the news lately. A recent article in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine finds that adult patients treated with drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza (or similar) were half as likely to die compared to those who went untreated[1]. These findings are indeed exciting, and assuming availability of the drugs, promising.

But what happens when lifesaving therapies or devices are in short supply? How do we make decisions to allocate scarce resources in a pandemic or other public health emergency? What kinds of ethical frameworks should be used to do so?

In partnership with the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute and University School of Medicine, and the Health System’s Office of Emergency Management, as well as the UPMC Center for Health Security, RESOLVE has managed a series of public engagement sessions to answer these complex questions. By engaging “lay” community members and health care providers, alike, this project seeks to collectively consider decision-making criteria for allocating ventilators in a pandemic flu. These discussions use a deliberative democracy model to probe views on different principles for allocating scarce medical resources.

The project’s principle investigator, Dr. Lee Daugherty Biddison, discusses the project in this Hopkins Medicine Magazine article by David Green

***Update 6/23/14*** Since the initial posting of this blog entry, the project was published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society. For more information, please see this abstract.

-Rachel Nelson & Chrissie Juliano


[1] Stella G Muthuri PhD, S. V.-B.-B. (2014). Effectiveness of neuraminidase inhibitors in reducing mortality in patients admitted to hospital with influenza A H1N1pdm09 virus infection: a meta-analysis of individual participant data. The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

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