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Issue Brief Crisis Standards of CareHealth and Health Care

Crisis Standards of Care: Legal Issues Underlying Key Decisions Regarding Scarce Resources

September 7, 2021


During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals across the nation confronted patient surges and resource shortages consistent with implementing crisis standards of care (CSC). The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) define CSC as a “substantial change in usual health care operations and the level of care it is possible to deliver.” However, no set of legal issues are more profound than those implicated in making actual decisions about which patient[s] receive specific care in emergencies.

This issue brief lists core legal issues and concerns that may arise when a resource allocation or treatment decision is made under CSC.