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Annals Academy of Medicine Singapore ; 49(8):605-607, 2020.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-937889
J Intensive Care ; 8: 59, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-707760


Triage becomes necessary when demand for intensive care unit (ICU) resources exceeds supply. Without triage, there is a risk that patients will be admitted to the ICU in the sequence that they present, disadvantaging those who either present later or have poorer access to healthcare. Moreover, if the patients with the best prognosis are not allocated life support, there is the possibility that overall mortality will increase. Before formulating criteria, principles such as maximizing lives saved and fairness ought to have been agreed upon to guide decision-making. The triage process is subdivided into three parts, i.e., having explicit inclusion/exclusion criteria for ICU admission, prioritization of patients for allocation to available beds, and periodic reassessment of all patients already admitted to the ICU. Multi-dimensional criteria offer more holistic prognostication than only using age cutoffs. Appointed triage officers should also be enabled to make data-driven decisions. However, the process does not merely end with an allocation decision being made. Any decision has to be sensitively and transparently communicated to the patient and family. With infection control measures, there are challenges in managing communication and the psychosocial distress of dying alone. Therefore, explicit video call protocols and social services expertise will be necessary to mitigate these challenges. Besides symptom management and psychosocial management, supportive care teams play an integral role in coordination of complex cases. This scoping review found support for the three-pronged, triage-communication-supportive care approach to facilitate the smooth operationalization of the triage process in a pandemic.