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New York state rescinded a blanket do-not-resuscitate order on Wednesday, that instructed first-responders not to revive patients without a pulse, in an effort to preserve resources during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The order initially was deemed "necessary during the COVID-19 response to protect the health and safety of EMS providers by limiting their exposure, conserve resources, and ensure optimal use of equipment to save the greatest number of lives," according to a memo issued last week by the state Department of Health.
"This guidance, proposed by physician leaders of the EMS Regional Medical Control Systems and the State Advisory Council – in accordance with American Heart Association guidance and based on standards recommended by the American College of Emergency Physicians and adopted in multiple other states - was issued April 17, 2020 at the recommendation of the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, and reflected nationally recognized minimum standards," the state health department's spokeswoman, Jill Montag, said.
"However, they don't reflect New York's standards and for that reason DOH Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has ordered them to be rescinded," she continued.
Before the initial order was issued, paramedics were told to try to resuscitate patients found in cardiac arrest for up to 20 minutes, the New York Post reported.
New York City’s Fire Department (FDNY) and first responders never adopted the DNR order and instead adhered to the traditional 20-minute policy.
First responders said they were disturbed by the directive, arguing it went against their mission of saving lives.
"They’re not giving people a second chance to live anymore," Oren Barzilay, the president of Local 2507, Uniformed EMT’s, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors Union, told the Post. "Our job is to bring patients back to life. This guideline takes that away from us."
As of Wednesday, there were over 263,000 confirmed cases of the virus in New York state and over 19,000 deaths.