Ethical Management of COVID-19 Pandemic at a Neurological Hospital: The Ethicovid Report.
Source: J Neurosurg Anesthesiol
BACKGROUND: During the first wave of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it was necessary to prepare for the possibility of triaging patients who could benefit from access to an intensive care unit (ICU). In our neuroscience institution, the challenge was to continue to manage usual neurological emergencies as well as the influx of COVID-19 patients.
METHODS: We report the experience of an ethical consulting unit to support care clinical decisions during the first wave of the pandemic (March 16 to April 30, 2020). Three objective evaluation criteria were defined: 2 of these criteria, patient's factors and general disease severity (Simplified Acute Physiology Score II), were common to all patients, and the third was the specific severity of the disease (neurological for brain injury, respiratory for COVID-19). Given our scarce resources, we used a high probability of a 3-month modified Rankin Scale ≤3 as the criterion for further resuscitation and management.
RESULTS: A total of 295 patients were admitted during the first pandemic wave; 111 with COVID-19 and 184 with neurological emergencies. The ethical unit's expertise was sought for 75 clinical situations in 56 patients (35 COVID-19 and 21 neurological). Decisions were as follows: 11% no limitation on care, 5% expectant care with reassessment (maximum therapy to assess possible progress pending decision), 67% partial limitation (no intensification of care or no transfer to ICU), and 17% limitation of curative care. At no time did a lack of availability of ICU beds require the ethical unit to advise against admission to the ICU.
CONCLUSIONS: Our ethical consulting unit allowed for collegial ethical decision-making in line with international recommendations. This model could be easily transferred to other triage situations, provided it is adapted to the local context.