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Alberta revises triage protocol to exclude children

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Alberta Health Services will not include pediatric patients in its critical care treatment protocol if they need to activate it.

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An AHS spokesman said Tuesday that the “change” in his approach was communicated to doctors and staff last week.

“This step is not a change in the protocol, but a change in how we would implement the protocol if we needed to use it.

“The protocol now only applies to adult patients.”

The AHS said the decision to exclude children from the triage protocol was taken after discussions with pediatric teams, “who expressed understandable concern about the possible cause of the use of pediatric triage”.

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Any benefit to the ICU capacity from pediatric testing would be negligible, AHS added.


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The AHS has not had to implement the triage protocol and said it has made every effort to find additional ICU capacity as COVID-19 admissions increased and put great pressure on the health system. Operations have been postponed, additional space has been opened and staff has been deployed to meet the ICU’s historically high demand.

“We currently have adequate ICU capacity and hope we will never need to implement the protocol,” AHS told Global News in a statement Tuesday evening.


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What does the triage protocol look like in Alberta? 17 September 2021

The treatment protocol means that doctors, nurses, and health administrators must prioritize patients, essentially deciding who has a chance to live and who does not.

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In April, AHS publicly published its critical care triage document created to help healthcare workers make these decisions.

READ MORE:COVID-19: How will Alberta health care workers prioritize patients in the midst of an ICU increase?

Health care workers would be directed to prioritize patients who are most likely to overall survival and patients who are most likely to have a positive outcome with less use of critical care resources, either in intensity or duration.

Additional survival differences are based on the patient’s medical assessments alone and not on the patient’s personal or group characteristics (eg age, gender, race, disability, national or ethnic origin, color, religion), the document said.

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As of Tuesday, there were 1,053 people in hospital with COVID-19, 242 of whom were intheICU.

There were a total of 300 patients in the ICU (COVID and non-COVID) as of Tuesday afternoon, the vast majority of whom are COVID-19 positive, the AHS said. The prime minister added at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon that about 90 per cent of patients with COVID-19 in the ICU were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

There were 376 ICU beds open in Alberta, including 203 additional spaces (an increase of 117 percent over 173 bases), the AHS said.

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Provincially, the capacity of the ICU (including additional growth beds) was at 80 percent. Without additional space, the capacity of the provincial ICU would be at 173 per cent, the AHS said on Tuesday.

The Calgary area operated at 75 percent of current capacity, the Edmonton area at 83 percent, the Central area at 67 percent, the South area at 89 percent, and the North area at 89 percent.

There are currently 15,295 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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