Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Cambridge University Press
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Objective: Pandemics generate such a significant demand for care that traditional triage methods can become saturated. Secondary population-based triage (S-PBT) overcomes this limitation. Although the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic forced S-PBT into operation internationally during the first year of the pandemic, Australian doctors were spared this responsibility. However, the second wave of COVID-19 provides an opportunity to explore the lived experience of preparing for S-PBT within the Australian context. The aim of this study is to explore the lived experience of preparing to operationalize S-PBT to allocate critical care resources during Australia's second wave of COVID-19 in 2020. Methods: Intensivists and emergency physicians working during the second Victorian COVID-19 surge were recruited by purposive non-random sampling. Semi-structured interviews were hosted remotely, recorded, transcribed, and coded to facilitate a qualitative phenomenological analysis. Results: Six interviews were conducted with an equal mix of intensivists and emergency doctors. Preliminary findings from a thematic analysis revealed 4 themes: (1) threat of resources running; (2) informed decision requiring information; (3) making decisions as we always do; and (4) a great burden to carry. Conclusion: This is the first description of this novel phenomenon within Australia and, in doing so, it identified a lack of preparedness to operationalize S-PBT during the second wave of COVID-19 in Australia.
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