Those involved in the discussions said the goal for developing criteria for prioritizing care is to provide fair and evenly applied practices across the region and eliminate the possibility that the care a patient receives might depend on which hospital he or she goes to. They said they also hope to avoid placing the responsibility and anguish of denying lifesaving aid on any individual doctor or nurse.

“They look at the criteria — in this case it would likely be age and underlying disease conditions — and then determine that this person, though this person has a chance of survival with a ventilator, does not get one,” Ms. Sauer said.

“This is a shift to caring for the population, where you look at the whole population of people who need care and make a determination about who is most likely to survive, and you provide care to them,” she said. “Those that have a less good chance of survival — but still have a chance — you do not provide care to them, which guarantees their death.”