The Complex Relationship Between Disability Discrimination and Frailty Scoring

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Wilkinson (2021, forthcoming) argues that the use of frailty scores in ICU triage does not necessarily involve discrimination on the basis of disability. In support of this argument, he claims, “it is not the disability per se that the score is measuring – rather it is the underlying physiological and physical vulnerability." While we appreciate the attention Wilkinson explicitly pays to disability in this piece, we find the distinction between disability and underlying vulnerability untenable both theoretically and practically. In this peer commentary, we begin with a brief overview of research in philosophy of disability concerning the meaning of the concept itself. We argue that this research demonstrates that many forms of disability do not involve underlying vulnerabilities, and, furthermore, that Wilkinson equivocates between "disability" understood as a medical category vs. "disability" understood as a feature of lived experience. We reject Wilkinson’s distinction on these grounds and offer further considerations to avoid disability discrimination in emergency and crisis standards of care contexts.
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Archival date: 2021-09-10
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