Intensive Care Medicine

, Volume 36, Issue 11, pp 1966–1971

Reorganising the pandemic triage processes to ethically maximise individuals’ best interests

Legal and Ethical Issues

DOI: 10.1007/s00134-010-1986-2

Cite this article as:
Tillyard, A. Intensive Care Med (2010) 36: 1966. doi:10.1007/s00134-010-1986-2



To provide a revised definition, process and purpose of triage to maximise the number of patients receiving intensive care during a crisis.


Based on the ethical principle of virtue ethics and the underlying goal of providing individual patients with treatment according to their best interests, the methodology of triage is reassessed and revised.


The decision making processes regarding treatment decisions during a pandemic are redefined and new methods of intensive care provision recommended as well as recommending the use of a ‘ranking’ system for patients excluded from intensive care, defining the role of non-intensive care specialists, and applying two types of triage as ‘organisational triage’ and ‘treatment triage’ based on the demand for intensive care.


Using a different underlying ethical basis upon which to plan for a pandemic crisis could maximise the number of patients receiving intensive care based on individual patients’ best interests.


Pandemic Triage Virtue ethics 

Copyright information

© Copyright jointly held by Springer and ESICM 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Derriford HospitalPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Peninsula Medical SchoolPlymouthUK

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