Coronavirus victims in Italy will be denied access to intensive care if they are aged 80 or more or in poor health should pressure on beds increase.
A document prepared by a crisis management unit in Turin proposed the plan reports The Telegraph.
Doctors fear that some patients denied intensive care will in effect be left to die.
The unit has drawn up a protocol, seen by The Telegraph that will determine which patients receive treatment in intensive care and which do not if there are insufficient spaces.
As coronavirus continues to spread in Italy, the country's capacity to provide intensive care is running short.
The document, produced by the civil protection deparment of the Piedmont region, one of those hardest hit, says: "The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity
Index [which indicates how many other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5."
The ability of the patient to recover from resuscitation will also be considered.
One doctor said: "[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient's] health conditions. This is how it is in a war."