Coronavirus: families look to courts over relatives’ access to intensive care
Share article:
Share article:

Coronavirus: families look to courts over relatives’ access to intensive care

© Belga

Doctors in Liège are facing legal proceedings as families look to the courts over conflicts surrounding access to hospitals’ strained intensive care units (ICU).

The new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has hiked the pressure on hospitals as medical staff try to cope with surging hospitalisation rates and not enough available beds or resources.

The Montlégie hospital in Liège is under particular pressure from families, whose lawyers invoke the Patients Rights Act over their elderly relatives’ access into an ICU, De Morgen reports.

Related News:

 

Several Belgian media also reports that a family of a 91-year-old patient with underlying conditions has already launched summary proceedings after the patient was not admitted into the ICU.

According to the latest government figures on Sunday, there are currently over 5,700 Covid-19 patients in the hospital out of whom 1,261 require intensive care.

“We are also seeing that general practitioners are pressured into sending patients into the hospitals, with some families also threatening them with legal proceedings if they refuse [to recommend hospitalisation],” an ICU doctor in another Liège hospital told La Libre.

In mid-March, the Belgian Society of Intensive Care Medicine published ethical guidelines to steer decisions how to use hospital resources, reportedly at the request of federal authorities as the number of confirmed cases of the virus soared.

The publication came as reports emerged that overcrowded Italian hospitals were choosing which patients to put on the ICU or on a ventilator since “not everyone could be intubated.”

Reacting to news of the legal proceedings, medical law specialist Flip Dewallens said that, given the current circumstances, the claims had little chance of success.

“Doctors behave carefully when following the guidelines of the Crisis Centre and its scientific associations,” Dewallens said. “Judges also realise that the care in the event of shortages [of medical equipment and supplies] is different than in optimal circumstances.”

But Dewalles said that a claim still faced “those who give the best of themselves, day and night” with a “harsh” liability procedure, calling on the government to issue a power of attorney decision to give health professionals immunity as they “adhere to the scientific guidelines” to navigate the coronavirus pandemic with limited staff and resources.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Increase in number of people ‘asking King for mercy’ through royal pardons
More and more people living in Belgium have been seeking royal pardons, mainly for fines, largely as a result of it now being possible to send in ...
England now accepting cheaper Covid tests from fully vaccinated travellers
Fully vaccinated travellers who enter England from non-red countries will only be required to book a lateral flow test to take following their ...
Re-introducing face masks indoors considered as Covid-19 situation worsens
Belgium's council of ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the worsening epidemiological situation, and reintroducing face ...
Federal museums to receive €2.9 million booster shot
Federal museums will receive an additional €2.9 million in support from the government for the fiscal year 2021, of which the first payouts will be ...
European Parliament emphasises healthy food and animal welfare in EU Farm to Fork Strategy
The European Parliament adopted this week a resolution on the EU Farm to Fork Strategy calling for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food ...
Threats of strike action could affect Brussels’ STIB network from Monday
Brussels public transport operator STIB's trams, buses and metros could be affected from Monday 25 October onwards as the union representing the ...
Number of international adoptions in Belgium continues to drop
The number of regulated international adoptions authorised by Belgium further dropped in 2020, continuing an ongoing decreasing trend. Last ...
Disaster drill with emergency services held at Brussels Airport
Around 300 people took part in a disaster drill held was organised on Saturday by Brussels Airport in collaboration with external emergency services ...
Austria presents bill to legalise euthanasia
Austria’s government on Saturday presented its proposals for legalising assisted suicide, in response to a Constitutional Court ruling that the ...
Brussels’ Museum Night Fever draws in some 12,000 visitors
Some 12,000 participants took part in the 14th edition of Museum Night Fever in Brussels, with the 29 participating museums filled to the maximum ...
Relaunch of 10,000 steps campaign to get Flemish people moving
The Flemish government is breathing new life into its 10,000 steps campaign to get people in the region moving after a recent survey found that a ...
‘No scientific basis’ for giving everyone third dose, vaccine expert says
The head of Belgium's Vaccination Taskforce has argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to support the Flemish government's decision to ...