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German court rules people with disabilities must be protected in triage scenarios

Bundeswehr General Mayor Carsten Breuer visits a COVID-19 intensive care station in Munich
Health workers treat a patient as Bundeswehr General Mayor Carsten Breuer, head of the COVID-19 emergency task force of the German government (not pictured), visits a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) intensive care station in Munich, Germany December 22, 2021. Peter Kneffel/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

December 28, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s constitutional court ruled on Tuesday that lawmakers must set out legally binding criteria to protect people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions in pandemic-related triage situations.

Nine people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions filed the complaints at the court in Karlsruhe, as the coronavirus pandemic pushes hospitals to their limits.

Guidelines from German medical organisations including the DIVI association for emergency medicine have so far named probability of survival – taking into account the patient’s frailty as well as existing diseases – as the main criterion for triage.

The complainants fear that due to their statistically lower level of survival, they would always have lowest priority for an intensive care bed.

(Reporting by Ursula Knapp, Writing by Miranda Murray, Editing by Zuzanna Szymanska)

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