Paramedic delivery of bad news: a novel dilemma during the COVID-19 crisis

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Abstract

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, paramedics in the UK face unprecedented challenges in the care of acutely unwell patients and their family members. This article will describe and discuss a new ethical dilemma faced by clinicians in the out-of-hospital environment during this time, namely the delivery of bad news to family members who are required to remain at home and self-isolate while the critically unwell patient is transported to hospital. I will discuss some failings of current practice and reflect on some of the ethical and practical challenges confronting paramedics in these circumstances. I conclude by making three recommendations: first, that dedicated pastoral outreach teams ought to be set up during pandemics to assist family members of patients transported to hospital; second, I offer a framework for how bad news can be delivered during a lockdown in a less damaging way; and finally, that a new model of bad news delivery more suited for unplanned, time-pressured care should be developed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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