Serious Shortages of Doctors, Nurses, and Hospital Staff Ahead
With more than 93,000 people with COVID-19 now hospitalized in the United States, the numbers of new daily infections surging, and increases expected as Americans travel for the holidays, the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) today called on the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and health systems to prepare immediately to implement their Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) and to assist and coordinate implementation of these guidelines with their states, communities, other hospitals, and providers over the next several months.
The AAMC’s action was triggered by reports of growing numbers of front line health care professionals who are sidelined with the virus, as well as increasing shortages of available hospital beds, specialized equipment, and supplies for treating patients with COVID-19 infections. Public health models indicate these shortages will continue to get worse in the coming weeks.
The nation’s teaching hospitals have used CSCs in the past to respond to natural disasters, the 2014 Ebola crisis, and events such as 9/11. Crisis care seeks to provide the best care possible to the largest number of people with the resources available. New guidance about Crisis Standards of Care is now available in the AAMC’s COVID-19 Clinical Guidance Repository.
“The next few months of the pandemic, while we are awaiting the distribution of vaccines, are going to stretch the nation’s health care capacity to its limits. Teaching hospitals, as they have done throughout the pandemic, will do all they can to provide fair and equitable care to all patients who need it, including our most vulnerable communities. These institutions will also work with affiliated medical schools and other hospitals in their areas to coordinate care and use of resources, as well as work with their states on planning,” said David J. Skorton, MD, AAMC president and CEO.
“Patients who believe they need hospital or medical care in the coming weeks and months should not delay that care and should first contact their primary health care provider if they have one—or their local community health center if they don’t—to determine the best course of action,” said Janis M. Orlowski, MD, AAMC chief health care officer. “The new ‘Acute Hospital Care at Home’ program just announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may provide a home option for some patients needing hospital care.”
“During this time, it’s critical that everyone do everything they can to stay safe and healthy by wearing masks, getting a flu vaccine, and following social distancing guidelines to help avoid the need for hospital care,” Skorton added. “We will get through this if we all work together.”