Medical Student Choices Regarding Ventilator Allocation for People With Disabilities

Carly Muller, Canon Brodar, Kaitlyn E. Brodar, Kenneth Goodman, Jeffrey P. Brosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns exist that ventilator triage policies may lead to discrimination against people with disabilities. This study evaluates whether preclinical medical students demonstrate bias towards people with disabilities during an educational ventilator-allocation exercise. Written student responses to a triage simulation activity were analyzed to describe ventilator priority rankings and to identify themes regarding disability. Disability status was not cited as a reason to withhold a ventilator. Key themes observed in ventilator triage decisions included life expectancy, comorbidities, and social worth. Although disability discrimination has historically been perpetuated by health care professionals, it is encouraging that preclinical medical students did not demonstrate explicit bias against people with disabilities in ventilator triage scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-445
Number of pages5
JournalIntellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • bias
  • disability
  • medical education
  • pandemic
  • triage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Community and Home Care
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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