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CPSA triage protocol guidance

Physicians | Posted October 13, 2021

Alberta Health Services (AHS) has developed Critical Care Triage Protocols to guide Alberta’s response should the demand for life-sustaining critical care support become greater than the available resources either during the current COVID-19 pandemic, future pandemics, or other disasters. If activated, triage will be provincial in scope; applicable to all health facilities and critical care units in Alberta.

It’s important to note that the triage protocols will only be activated when all available resources for critical care have been utilized and all other mitigations have been exhausted. However, we understand it can still be stressful and concerning for healthcare providers to think about.

In an effort to help our regulated members feel prepared should the triage protocols be enacted, CPSA would like to outline our expectations. According to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service, healthcare professionals who are following professional and organizational standards such as the Critical Care Triage Protocols would not meet the threshold for criminal prosecution. This means, when the Critical Care Triage Protocol is being followed, it is unlikely that there will be criminal prosecution.

However, physicians, physician assistants and osteopaths still have professional and ethical obligations that must be adhered to, even in a crisis setting. This includes continuity of care, through actions such as proper charting and clear communications, in addition to supporting patients and their families by continuing to address symptom management and comfort throughout all points of the patient’s journey.

CPSA recognizes that we may receive complaints regarding application of the triage protocol should it be enacted. We will always consider the individual circumstances and context if a complaint should arise while the triage protocol is in effect.

We encourage you to review the Critical Care Triage Protocols and the accompanying FAQs.

It’s important to remember that the protocols are a last resort, but should they be activated, triage is not about withholding care from patients, it is about providing the best care to the greatest number of people.

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