Briefline

Colorado activates crisis standards of care for emergency medical services as omicron surges

By: - January 8, 2022 5:00 am

Colorado hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at their highest point since December 2020. (Getty Images)

Colorado reactivated crisis standards of care for emergency medical services late Friday afternoon amid surging COVID-19 infections and an increase in sick EMS staff. 

The last time these standards were activated was in April 2020.

“With increasing demands on hospitals and EMS, we need to make sure we can provide care to anyone who needs it immediately. Crisis standards of care help us to do that,” the state’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France said in a press release.

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He emphasized that people needing emergency care should still call 911 or go to the emergency room as they would normally. Emergency dispatchers could advise people, however, to seek a regular doctor’s appointment if they determine a patient is not severely ill or injured. The goal is to send fewer ambulances out with a stretched-thin workforce and transport the most severe patients.

Under these standards, dispatchers might also recommend private transport to non-emergency receiving facilities like urgent care or a non-hospital setting, if appropriate. 

The standards also outline criteria to consider not transporting patients under 60 years old: if their vital signs are in the normal range, they don’t have a high-risk medical history, aren’t having difficulty breathing, demonstrate decision-making capability or have a history of a viral syndrome. 

In the field, responders may consider discontinuing or limiting life-saving treatment efforts, such as resuscitation, if the patient has a “known poor survival.” There is also recommended field protocol changes if the patient has COVID-19.

Colorado is also under the crisis standards of care for staffing, which was activated in November.

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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