Utilitarianism in Medicine

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Medical triage is the use of assignment to patients based on the urgency of their wounds or illnesses to determine the order of treatments on a large number of patients or casualties. This procedure is typically done in emergency rooms, disasters, and wars when there’s limited medical resources and they must be allocated to maximize the number of survivors. When a disaster of any kind hits, whether it be anthropogenic or not, there’s models that have been developed over time to help in the future.

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Utilitarianism has been the guide for most of these models, with the idea of survival of the greatest number in mind. The ethical considerations of allocating those limited resources have caused much debate. During a catastrophic event, there’s a switch from doing what is best for the patients to doing the greatest good for the largest amount of people. The idea of utilitarianism over time has proved to be the most advantageous approach, yet there are still questions and concerns that arise when making such critical decisions for so many people.

There are three conditions that are required when carrying out a triage during an emergency. 1. At least modest scarcity of resources exist 2. A health care worker assesses each patient’s medical needs based on a brief medical examination 3. The triage officer uses an established system or plan to determine a specific treatment priority for each patient. (Aacharya, Gastmans and Denier, 2018). This is where the categorization for each patient comes into play. When determining which patients will be treated first, healthcare professionals tag them into four different categories. The first is the red triage tag. This is considered Priority 1 and is for patients whose lives are in immediate danger and who require immediate treatment.

The second is the yellow triage tag. Yellow is considered Priority 2 and is for patients whose lives are not yet in immediate danger and who will require urgent but not immediate medical care. Next is the green triage tag. Those with this tag are considered Priority 3 and have minor injuries that will eventually need treatment. Finally, there’s the black triage tag. Also known as No Priority, these are patients who are either dead or have such extensive injuries they can’t be saved with the limited resources available.

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Utilitarianism In Medicine. (2019, Jul 31). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from
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