Palliative care in a pandemic: ‘Patients who are not expected to survive should not be abandoned’

April 2, 2020

COVID-19 patients who require palliative care, they said, will likely include older adults who do not want to be put on a ventilator; others who have been removed from a ventilator because their conditions have not improved; and a third group denied ventilation because of a “triage approach” in which only those with the best opportunity of surviving are afforded intensive care. Some patients with other serious health problems, comorbidities, could be denied a ventilator under a triage system.

The authors concluded: “Any triage system that does not integrate palliative care principles is unethical. Patients who are not expected to survive should not be abandoned but must receive palliative care as a human right.”

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Dr. James Downar is a Principal Investigator with the Canadian Frailty Network. Read more about his work with CFN here.