Whom should be saved? A proposed ethical framework for allocating scarce medical resources to COVID-19 patients using fuzzy logic

Saadeh, Heba, Saadeh, Maha ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0119-5623 and Almobaideen, Wesam (2021) Whom should be saved? A proposed ethical framework for allocating scarce medical resources to COVID-19 patients using fuzzy logic. Frontiers in Medicine, 8 , 600415. pp. 1-8. ISSN 2296-858X [Article] (doi:10.3389/fmed.2021.600415)

[img] PDF - Published version (with publisher's formatting)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (467kB)


COVID-19 is a global pandemic that affected the everyday life activities of billions around the world. It is an unprecedented crisis that the modern world had never experienced before. It mainly affected the economic state and the health care system. The rapid and increasing number of infected patients overwhelmed the healthcare infrastructure, which causes high demand and, thus, shortage in the required staff members and medical resources. This shortage necessitates practical and ethical suggestions to guide clinicians and medical centers when allocating and reallocating scarce resources for and between COVID-19 patients. Many studies proposed a set of ethical principles that should be applied and implemented to address this problem. In this study, five different ethical principles based on the most commonly recommended principles and aligned with WHO guidelines and state-of-the-art practices proposed in the literature were identified, and recommendations for their applications were discussed. Furthermore, a recent study highlighted physicians' propensity to apply a combination of more than one ethical principle while prioritizing the medical resource allocation. Based on that, an ethical framework that is based on Fuzzy inference systems was proposed. The proposed framework's input is the identified ethical principles, and the output is a weighted value (per patient). This value can be used as a rank or a priority factor given to the patients based on their condition and other relevant information, like the severity of their disease status. The main idea of implementing fuzzy logic in the framework is to combine more than one principle when calculating the weighted value, hence mimicking what some physicians apply in practice. Moreover, the framework's rules are aligned with the identified ethical principles. This framework can help clinicians and guide them while making critical decisions to allocate/reallocate the limited medical resources during the current COVID-19 crisis and future similar pandemics.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Medicine, COVID-19, ethical framework, ethical principles, fuzzy logic, resource allocation, scarce resources, WHO ethical guidelines
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Computer Science
Item ID: 32904
Notes on copyright: Copyright © 2021 Saadeh, Saadeh and Almobaideen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Jisc Publications Router
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2021 11:20
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2021 05:53
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/32904

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.