"President Obama has declared H1N1 swine flu a national emergency, clearing the way for his health chief to give hospitals wider leeway in how they handle a possible surge of new patients, administration officials said Saturday.
The president granted Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius the power to lift some federal regulations for medical providers, including allowing hospitals to set up off-site facilities to increase the number of available beds and protect patients who are not infected. Obama said in the declaration that the "rapid increase in illness . . . may overburden health-care resources."
White House officials played down the dramatic language, saying the president's action did not stem from a new assessment of the dangers the flu poses to the public. Instead, officials said the action provides greater flexibility for hospitals that may face a surge of new patients as the virus sweeps through their communities. The declaration allows Sebelius to waive certain requirements under Medicaire and Medicaid, privacy rules and other regulations."Note that last one. Last Sunday the Sun-Sentinel in Florida reported that they had been working on a plan that would allow hospitals to "force discharge" terminal and non-currable patients to make room for H1N1 patients.
"Florida health officials are drawing up guidelines that recommend barring patients with incurable cancer, end-stage multiple sclerosis and other conditions from being admitted to hospitals if the state is overwhelmed by flu cases. The plan, which would guide Florida hospitals on how to ration scarce medical care during a severe flu outbreak, also calls for doctors to remove patients with poor prognoses from ventilators to treat those who have better chances of surviving. That decision would be made by the hospital.But wait, it get's better. Utah tried the plan with theater.
"Utah family physician Pete DeWeerd had to tell a mock patient's mother that her 7-year-old daughter, who had cerebral palsy and was suffering from the flu, would be turned away from the hospital and likely die. "I don't like to tell you this," he said he told her, "it feels unfair, but our list is our list is our list." He added: "It was awful. You get a huge lump in your throat." Dr. Tom Kurrus, medical director of St. Mark's Hospital in Salt Lake City, called it "emotionally draining" when mock patients and family members yelled, screamed and took issue with who was denied treatment. "The major weakness in our preparedness had to do with security," he said.Under Obama's state of emergency HIPAA would be suspended.
HIPAA is the rule which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information, and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.
Hospitals would then be able to suspend their "Patient Bill of Rights" which also contains guarantees to protect you and I from being denied treatment or from having third parties review our personal medical information.
What does this mean folks?
Yup there would have to be "Death Panels", who can now officially decide who lives and who dies.