On August 16th I published an article entitled, An Argument For COVID Conservatism, in which I argued for individuals taking prudent actions in relation to the pandemic, in other words a conservative path. My good friend and frequent reader, Jeff McKnight, posed the following question in a comment to it: “Would it be unreasonable to deny a hospital bed to an unvaccinated COVID patient in favor of a vaccinated heart attack (etc.) patient? Just curious.”
On August 18th the Washington Post reported that an Alabama physician, Jason Valentine, was refusing to treat some unvaccinated patients. Those were the two “kicks in the posterior” that gave me the courage to write today’s article.
The PG rated version of the private reply I sent to Jeff was yes and that I lacked the courage to write that in my column. Well, today no more.
Here are some of the harsh realities facing us. Medical care is finite and we are currently wasting it on people who refuse to help themselves. Maybe it makes me less humane but I never feel as sorry for someone who brings their troubles on themselves as I do for an innocent victim. I just can’t feel as sorry for the lung cancer victim who smoked four packs a day for decades as I do for a child born with a terrible and life-threatening disease. At the least one has contributory negligence.
There is an old adage that goes, “God helps those who help themselves,” and I think the rationing of medical care should be the same.
Medical personnel hate to play God. With hospitals exceeding capacity in many regions (and it appears it will get worse before it gets better) choices will have to be made. Our health care system simply lacks the capacity to meet the projected (and in some cases current) demand for its services. Why should those dear resources be expended to treat someone who refused to take prudent action while refusing someone who was the unfortunate victim of a random misfortune? (Perhaps the innocent victim in a traffic accident is a better example.)
I don’t know what repercussions Dr. Valentine has faced or will face but I certainly agree with his point! He can only care for a single patient at any given moment. Why should he waste (my word not his) his efforts on someone who has refused to do the right things and probably will in the future when he could be saving someone who will be part of the solution as opposed to an enabler of the problem?
We have employed a variety of incentives (carrots) to combat the pandemic. They have proven inadequate. We have reached the point where those who refuse to act like responsible citizens need to suffer the consequences of their amoral actions (sticks).
I’d prefer zero deaths but if I have to choose, I’d be much more willing to endanger and perhaps sacrifice the lives of the irresponsible. Maybe if we make the price for irresponsibility high enough more people will do the obviously correct thing.
If you will allow me one related aside, I have to make a comment on the argument that the vaccines only have emergency authorization. The same people who make this argument for why they won’t get vaccinated willingly take the monoclonal antibody treatment when they test positive. Both have the identical approval and the sample size on the vaccines is much larger.
Both are free to the user at point of service but we collectively (as taxpayers) are still picking up the tab and the vaccines are much, much less expensive.
Thanks Jeff and Dr. Valentine, sometimes I too need the motivation of like minds.
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