Novel Use of Telepalliative Care in a New York City Emergency Department During the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Emerg Med. 2020 Aug 4:S0736-4679(20)30850-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.08.008. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus-2 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic. As of August 21, mortality from COVID-19 has reached almost 200,000 people, with the United States leading the globe in levels of morbidity and mortality. Large volumes of high-acuity patients, particularly those of advanced age and with chronic comorbidities, have significantly increased the need for palliative care resources beyond usual capacity. More specifically, COVID-19 has changed the way we approach patient and family member interactions.

DISCUSSION: Concern for nosocomial spread of this infection has resulted in strict visitation restrictions that have left many patients to face this illness, make difficult decisions, and even die, alone in the hospital. To meet the needs of COVID patients, services such as Emergency Medicine and Palliative Care have responded rapidly by adopting novel ways of practicing medicine. We describe the use of telepalliative medicine (TM) implemented in an emergency department (ED) setting to allow family members the ability to interact with their loved ones during critical illness, and even during the end of life. Use of this technology has helped facilitate goals of care discussions, in addition to providing contact and closure for both patients and their loved ones.

CONCLUSION: We describe our rapid and ongoing implementation of TM consultation for our ED patients and discuss lessons learned and recommendations for others considering similar care models.

PMID:32962902 | DOI:10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.08.008