IDHW Board passes rule for crisis standards of care

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Posted at 1:12 PM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-11 15:12:44-05

The Board of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) approved a temporary administrative rule at an emergency board meeting Friday. The rule allows for the timely activation of crisis standards of care during a pandemic, natural disaster or other emergency that overwhelms Idaho's healthcare systems.

Crisis standards of care are guidelines that help healthcare providers and systems decided how to deliver the best care possible under circumstances of a disaster, according to IDHW. The guidelines would be used when there are not enough resources to provide the usual standard of care to those who need it.

According to a news release, the new rule creates an activation advisory committee that will help Dave Jeppesen, the IDHW director, decide when the crisis standards of care are activated. The rule is now in effect and won't expire until after the legislative session, which typically ends around March or April.

The adoption of the rule comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are surging throughout Idaho and many hospitals are overwhelmed. Idaho Governor Brad Little announced Thursday the state is staying in a modified stage two while urging the public to comply with local orders.

Related: Idaho to stay in modified Stage 2, Little urges public compliance with local orders

“Crisis standards of care are a very last resort, and I hope we don’t have to implement them,” said DHW Director Dave Jeppesen. “It is preventable if people choose to follow the recommended guidelines.”

If crisis standards of care go into effect, people who need medical care may experience care that is different than what they expect. The release states emergency medical services may need to prioritize which 911 calls they respond to and patients admitted to the hospital may find beds are not available or are in re-purposed rooms. Laboratory or radiology services may also be limited or delayed.

The crisis standards of care plan were developed in 2020 and have not been implemented.