Telemedicine and Haemodialysis Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Integrative Review of Patient Safety, Healthcare Quality, Ethics and the Legal Considerations in Singapore Practice

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Apr 29;19(9):5445. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19095445.


The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented health crisis for the general population as well as for patients with chronic illnesses such as those requiring maintenance dialysis. Patients suffering from chronic kidney disease requiring dialysis are considered a high-risk population. Multiple reports have highlighted an increased need for intensive care and higher death rates among this group of patients. Most maintenance dialysis patients are in-centre haemodialysis patients who receive treatment in shared facilities (community dialysis centres). The inability to maintain social distancing in these facilities has led to case clustering among patients and staff. This poses a substantial risk to the patients, their household members, and the wider community. To mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission, telemedicine was rapidly adopted in the past year by nephrologists and other allied-health staff to provide care via remote consultations and reviews. Telemedicine poses unique challenges even in an era where so much is performed online with a high degree of success and satisfaction. In applying distant clinical care for maintenance haemodialysis patients via telemedicine, there is a need to ensure adequate protection for the health and safety of patients as well as understand the ethical and legal implications of telemedicine. We discussed, in this article, these three core aspects of patient safety and quality, ethics and legal implications in telemedicine, and how each of these is crucial to the safe and effective delivery of care in general as well as unique aspects of this in Singapore.

PMID:35564840 | PMC:PMC9102043 | DOI:10.3390/ijerph19095445