KOLKATA (India) — Swiss doctors have come under the fire of advocacy activists after they urged those vulnerable to novel coronavirus complications should record their last wishes for life in advance.
As per the Swiss doctor group, recording the last wishes of the vulnerable and critically ill COVID-19 patients is essential to ease the pressure in the intensive-care unit, Reuters reported.
“This will support your own relatives, but also the teams in the ICUs, as they make decisions so the treatment can be done in the best possible manner according to the individual patient wishes,” the group of doctors behind the request said in a statement.
The doctors from the Swiss Society for Intensive Care Medicine (SGI) are therefore calling for ‘especially imperiled,’ or people above the age of 60 with co-morbid complications to record their last wished on a piece of paper, should the worst happen.
By nature, people beyond 60 become susceptible to several complications, including viral infections which pose a risk far greater than healthy people below the age mark.
The body’s natural immune system tends to weaken with advancing age, and therefore, degrades the body’s natural mechanism to fight off a virus.
But this call did not go well with advocacy groups in Sweden. They have called the urge premature and excessive.
On the brink of collapse
Sweden’s healthcare system is on the brink of collapse, in the same way as many other countries are struggling to keep up with the influx of Covid-19 patients as Europe embraces a second wave. ICU beds are running low and that has prompted the alarm.
Medical facilities are outpouring with patients, and Intensive Care units are struggling to maintain the needful harmony. The typically air-conditioned ICUs that have finite space are falling short and the overall chaos is adding to the anxiety of the overburdened healthcare workers.
As some patients tend to deteriorate very quickly, this has raised moral and ethical dilemmas among healthcare workers around the world, prompting governments to mull compatible laws.
For instance, the call to vulnerable coronavirus patients to state their last wishes while still possible might appear insensitive, as pointed by Pro Senectute Schweiz, an organization for the elderly.
Nonetheless, the argument is in line with the hard-hitting truth revealed by many healthcare workers in their first-hand testimonies.
In the US, frontline healthcare workers have reported suffering bouts of depression after they have seen enough patients falling ill, needing oxygen, and passing out a few days later. This has been a viscious cycle in the US pandemic.
SGI says their request “is in the context of an absolute emergency situation in which Switzerland does not yet find itself in,” but giving patients the chance to make their last wish could have deep impacts for ICU’s as well.
“This is not a call for sacrifice. It’s just a call to take responsibility for their autonomy,” SGI Pro Senectute Schweiz told Reuters news agency.
In Italy, severely ill coronavirus patients were given a “declaration of renouncement of invasive treatment”, which meant they could choose to not receive treatments. Italian doctors said many patients committed the ‘act of heroism’ by refusing treatment.
In March and April, Italy was the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with morbidity rates touching record-heights and putting the country’s burials on the brink of collapse.
In the US, that has the highest number of caseload and deaths from the virus in the world, health care workers have reported long-term effects in the aftermath of death row they encountered first-hand, as it hunts them for a prolonged time.
“You’d go into residents’ rooms and they couldn’t breathe. Their families wanted to see them, and we’d set up Zoom wearing full gear, head to toe. Tears are flowing under your mask as you watch this person that you loved dying — and the family mourning their death through a tablet,” a nurse serving in the US, told Kaiser Health News.
COVID-19 has rebound in Switzerland, with some regions, like near Lake Geneva, the number of coronavirus infections is among the highest in Europe.
A second-wave is threatening the nation’s healthcare with 290,000 cases recorded on Friday alone. The sudden surge is some 190,000 more than what was just a week ago, Reuters noted.