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Table 1 Outline of possible triage strategies during a pandemic or other emergency situation where resources are limited. Multiple task forces favor FCFS and traditional methods as the most ethical during a pandemic

From: Preparing intensive care for the next pandemic influenza

Method Mechanism of medical triage Prioritizing factor Examples
Traditional No formal mechanism of triage No criteria Many health care systems
Barron Dominque-Jean Larry Treatment of the most urgent (i.e., sickest) patients, and deferring less sick or likely fatal cases Market pull factor How current system works in most of the developed world
Wilson Concentrate treatment on the most likely to be successful. Some low probability cases will die that otherwise may have been saved Likelihood of success Pragmatic approach
First-come, first-served (FCFS) Treatment based on arrival/presentation regardless of severity of illness, rank, or any other criteria Order of arrival In part, how current system works in most of the world
Greatest good for greatest number (GGGN) Depriving severely ill patients needing large amount of resources and attention, for multiple patients that are less sick and require less resources Number of patients treated for given resources Utilitarian approach
Less severity first treatment (LSFT) Prioritize healthier patients that can be treated quickly to allow them to return to society, the labor force, etc. Patients who are less sick Many emergency departments have a fast track section
Maximize the fighting strength Treat patients who are most likely to quickly return to duty with the least resource expenditure Time needed for treatment of patients Prioritize HCWs, key public health or government jobs, etc.