Triage is a term every medical professional is familiar with. In emergency rooms it happens all the time.
The average wait time in the ER in the U.S. in 2017 was a little over 4 hours. In California the average wait time was 5½ hours. At some California hospitals almost one in ten leave without ever seeing a doctor or completing their care.
The reason why so many people wait for so long is because ER doctors cant care for everyone at once. So they prioritize. Its not always first come, first served. If you are bleeding all over the floor you are likely to move to the head of the line.
Because of the coronavirus, the term triage has a more urgent and lethal meaning. Its being discussed a lotin newspapers, at blog posts and in interviews with hospital personnel.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo says no New York hospital has run out of ventilators; but if one does, there is no protocol for deciding which patients will have access and which will not. Apparently he is wrong on both counts. New York has a plan for rationing ventilators that was first adopted in 2007 and was revised in 2015.