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COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care Resources
Topic Collection
November 14, 2023

Topic Collection: COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care Resources

This Topic Collection focuses on plans, tools, templates, and other immediately implementable resources to help with COVID-19 preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts, focusing on crisis standards of care (CSC). Implementing CSC in a hospital setting should be a last resort when all other surge strategies have failed and no other regional resources are available. Planners need to account for three domains:

·       Concept of operations – What is the process for making decisions? Who makes the decisions? How is this integrated with the incident command system?

·       Criteria – What will the decisions be based upon? Using the best evidence available, primarily  prioritizing interventions on the basis of prognosis and duration of use.

·       Coordination – How does the facility coordinate with others in the area through healthcare coalition/ other constructs to assure consistency of care and decision making?

The following are selected best practices designed for quick reference and application.

This Resource Collection was reviewed in Fall 2023. Please refer to CDC’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 webpage for the most up-to-date clinical guidance on COVID19 outbreak management.

If you have COVID-19 best or promising practices, plans, tools, or templates to share with your peers, please visit the ASPR TRACIE Information Exchange COVID-19 Information Sharing Page (registration required) and place your resources under the relevant topic area. Resources specific to CSC can be placed under the COVID-19 Crisis Standards of Care Resources Topic.

General Resources


This document highlights guidance from the AMA Code of Medical Ethics relevant to physicians making decisions about the allocation of scarce resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The resources on this page can help healthcare and emergency management planners prepare for surges of COVID-19 patients.
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The speakers in this webinar discussed clinical consultation versus triage support, systems-level information sharing, coalition-level coordination activities, and recent publications/resources to help with crisis standards of care planning efforts.
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This ASPR TRACIE tip sheet summarizes four healthcare executives’ experience with statewide patient surge management during COVID-19 and lessons learned gleaned from other resources. (Access the full report here: https://files.asprtracie.hhs.gov/documents/innovations-in-covid-19-patient-surge-management-final-508.pdf)
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This resource includes links to quick sheets on crisis standards of care (CSC) considerations. Topics include principles of CSC, information for planners and healthcare providers, clinical allocation decisions, public messaging, and roles and responsibilities.
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This ASPR TRACIE technical assistance response describes strategies for addressing strain on U.S. hospitals (due in part to increases in seasonal respiratory viruses and issues with available space and staffing), including specific data points and operational strategies.
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The articles in this issue focus on ethical dilemmas during and beyond COVID-19, ethical issues specific to COVID-19 treatment and vaccination, crisis standards of care, and patient load balancing.
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Biddison, E., Gwon, H., Schoch-Spana, M. et al. (2018). Scarce Resource Allocation During Disasters: A Mixed-Method Community Engagement Study. Chest. 153(1):187-195.
The authors conducted a series of 15 discussions with 324 members of the public and health-related professionals to characterize the public's values regarding how scarce mechanical ventilators should be allocated during an influenza pandemic, and to inform a statewide scare resource allocation framework. They concluded that awareness of how “the values expressed by the public and front-line clinicians sometimes diverge from expert guidance in important ways,” should inform policy making.
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The 11 suggestions highlighted in this article can help those involved in large-scale pandemics or disasters with multiple critically ill or injured patients (e.g., front-line clinicians and hospital administrators) make more informed decisions about critical care triage.
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This document provides select healthcare entities (e.g., nursing homes, assisted living facilities, Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, long-term acute care hospitals, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, and dedicated hospice facilities) an overview of general considerations, potential strategies, and existing resources they may use to inform changes to their COVID-19 related operations and crisis standards of care (CSC) processes. It is intended to complement, not replace, existing state and/or local guidance and plans for implementing CSC.
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This document provides an overview of general considerations, potential strategies, and existing resources that emergency medical services (EMS) agencies may use to inform changes to their operations and standards of care to preserve and effectively allocate EMS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Devereaux, A., Tosh, P., Hick, J., et al. (2014). Engagement and Education. Care of the Critically Ill and Injured During Pandemics and Disasters: CHEST Consensus Statement. Chest. 146(4 Suppl):e 118S–e133S.
This panel of experts reviewed the literature and developed 23 suggestions into four categories related to clinician engagement and education: situational awareness, clinician roles and responsibilities, education, and community engagement.
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This article presents ten new suggestions from the Task Force for Mass Critical Care based on the response to COVID-19 to help hospitals and communities operationalize strategies to avoid crisis standards of care. These suggestions focus on staffing, load-balancing, communications, and technology.
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* Hick, J., Hanfling, D., and Wynia, M.. (2022). Hospital Planning for Contingency and Crisis Conditions: Crisis Standards of Care Lessons from COVID-19. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
The authors highlight gaps in contingency and crisis standards of care planning uncovered during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide recommendations for hospitals that can help ensure an effective, fair response in the future.
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Hick, J., Hanfling, D., Wynia, M., and Pavia, A. (2020). Duty to Plan: Health Care, Crisis Standards of Care, and Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. National Academy of Medicine .
This discussion paper describes the application of crisis standards of care principles to clinical care challenges posed by a coronavirus or other epidemic or pandemic. The authors encourage healthcare facilities to develop a process for decision making based on the best available clinical information and built upon existing surge capacity plans.
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Hick, J., Hanfling, D., Wynia, M., and Toner E. (2021). Crisis Standards of Care and COVID-19: What Did We Learn? How Do We Ensure Equity? What Should We Do? (Added 8/30/2021.) National Academy of Medicine .
This discussion paper reviews some of the lessons learned related to crisis standards of care principles and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic and identifies issues and action steps for the future.
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Keller, M., Want, J., Nason, M., et al. (2022). Preintubation Sequential Organ Failure Assessment Score for Predicting COVID-19 Mortality. (Abstract only.) Critical Care Medicine.
The authors reviewed a U.S. cohort of 15,000 ventilated patients with COVID-19 hospitalized between January 1, 2020, and February 14, 2021 to validate the predictive capacity of the preintubation SOFA score. They found the tool has low accuracy for predicting mortality and recommend reviewing triage pathways.
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Minnesota Department of Health. (n.d.). Health Care Considerations – Crisis Standards of Care.
This web page includes several resources that healthcare facilities may use to plan for medical surge caused by COVID-19.
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This resource builds upon prior consultation (issued on March 28, 2020) and focuses on Crisis Standards of Care and staffing needs--including deployment and allocation of expert clinical staff--to ensure the care of COVID-19 patients.
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NRCC Healthcare Resilience Task Force. (2020). Crisis Standards of Care and Civil Rights Laws.
This document highlights language that supports the adherence to civil rights laws and disability rights laws in the application of Crisis Standards of Care during resource-constrained emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Plans, Tools, and Templates


The Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (SOFA) score was designed as a research tool so that groups of patients could be categorized based on their risk of death. This fact sheet includes an overview of the score, how it is calculated, and how it can be used in triage situations.
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Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2022). Annex B: Colorado Crisis Standards of Care Plan. CDPHE All Hazards Internal Emergency Response and Recovery Plan.
This deactivated COVID-19 crisis standards of care plan outlines state-level process and decision making and resource allocation were used or proposed for situations that surpassed available capacities and capabilities and provides a structure for clinical decisions (though some of the triage decision tools are not the most current). The plan also details a robust engagement and development process.
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Hanfling, D., Hick, J., and Stroud, C. (2013). Crisis Standards of Care: A Toolkit for Indicators and Triggers. Institute of Medicine, Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
This toolkit contains key concepts, guidance, and practical resources to help individuals across the emergency response system develop plans for crisis standards of care and respond to a catastrophic disaster. It includes sample indicators, triggers, and sample tactics for use in the transition from conventional surge to contingency surge to crisis surge, and a return from crisis response to conventional response including templates for no-notice and prolonged incidents.
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* Hick, J., Hanfling, D., and Wynia, M.. (2022). Hospital Planning for Contingency and Crisis Conditions: Crisis Standards of Care Lessons from COVID-19. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
The authors highlight gaps in contingency and crisis standards of care planning uncovered during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide recommendations for hospitals that can help ensure an effective, fair response in the future.
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This Word template may be used by healthcare facilities to develop a CSC plan.
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