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1.
Palliat Med ; : 2692163221109711, 2022 Jul 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1916805

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of deaths worldwide, leading to symptoms of grief among the bereaved. Neither the burden of severe grief nor its predictors are fully known within the context of the pandemic. AIM: To determine the prevalence and predictors of severe grief in family members who were bereaved early in the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: Prospective, matched cohort study. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Family members of people who died in an acute hospital in Ottawa, Canada between November 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020. We matched relatives of patients who died of COVID (COVID +ve) with those who died of non-COVID illness either during wave 1 of the pandemic (COVID -ve) or immediately prior to its onset (pre-COVID). We abstracted decedents' medical records, contacted family members >6 months post loss, and assessed grief symptoms using the Inventory of Complicated Grief-revised. RESULTS: We abstracted data for 425 decedents (85 COVID +ve, 170 COVID -ve, and 170 pre-COVID), and 110 of 165 contacted family members (67%) consented to participate. Pre-COVID family members were physically present more in the last 48 h of life; the COVID +ve cohort were more present virtually. Overall, 35 family members (28.9%) had severe grief symptoms, and the prevalence was similar among the cohorts (p = 0.91). Grief severity was not correlated with demographic factors, physical presence in the final 48 h of life, intubation, or relationship with the deceased. CONCLUSION: Severe grief is common among family members bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of the cause or circumstances of death, and even if their loss took place before the onset of the pandemic. This suggests that aspects of the pandemic itself contribute to severe grief, and factors that normally mitigate grief may not be as effective.

2.
BMJ Open ; 12(6): e062937, 2022 06 27.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1909768

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: To compare end-of-life in-person family presence, patient-family communication and healthcare team-family communication encounters in hospitalised decedents before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: In a regional multicentre retrospective cohort study, electronic health record data were abstracted for a prepandemic group (pre-COVID) and two intrapandemic (March-August 2020, wave 1) groups, one COVID-19 free (COVID-ve) and one with COVID-19 infection (COVID+ve). Pre-COVID and COVID-ve groups were matched 2:1 (age, sex and care service) with the COVID+ve group. SETTING: One quaternary and two tertiary adult, acute care hospitals in Ottawa, Canada. PARTICIPANTS: Decedents (n=425): COVID+ve (n=85), COVID-ve (n=170) and pre-COVID (n=170). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: End-of-life (last 48 hours) in-person family presence and virtual (video) patient-family communication, and end-of-life (last 5 days) virtual team-family communication encounter occurrences were examined using logistic regression with ORs and 95% CIs. End-of-life (last 5 days) rates of in-person and telephone team-family communication encounters were examined using mixed-effects negative binomial models with incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% CIs. RESULTS: End-of-life in-person family presence decreased progressively across pre-COVID (90.6%), COVID-ve (79.4%) and COVID+ve (47.1%) groups: adjusted ORs=0.38 (0.2-0.73) and 0.09 (0.04-0.17) for COVID-ve and COVID+ve groups, respectively. COVID-ve and COVID+ve groups had reduced in-person but increased telephone team-family communication encounters: IRRs=0.76 (0.64-0.9) and 0.61 (0.47-0.79) for in-person, and IRRs=2.6 (2.1-3.3) and 4.8 (3.7-6.1) for telephone communications, respectively. Virtual team-family communication encounters occurred in 17/85 (20%) and 10/170 (5.9%) of the COVID+ve and COVID-ve groups, respectively: adjusted OR=3.68 (1.51-8.95). CONCLUSIONS: In hospitalised COVID-19 pandemic wave 1 decedents, in-person family presence and in-person team-family communication encounters decreased at end of life, particularly in the COVID+ve group; virtual modalities were adopted for communication, and telephone use increased in team-family communication encounters. The implications of these communication changes for the patient, family and healthcare team warrant further study.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Canada/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , Communication , Death , Humans , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies
3.
Can Geriatr J ; 25(2): 171-174, 2022 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1893251

ABSTRACT

Background: The greatest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada has been on long-term care facilities which have accounted for a large majority of the mortality seen in this country. We developed a clinical response team to perform mass assessment and provide support to long-term care facilities in Eastern Ontario with large outbreaks in the hope of reducing the impact of the outbreaks. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of all residents of LTC facilities supported by our multidisciplinary clinical response team. We collected data about the timing of the outbreak and our deployment, as well as the total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and measured the correlation between the timing of our deployment and the observed mortality rate. Results: Our clinical team was deployed to 14 long-term care facilities, representing 719 cases and 243 deaths (mean ± standard error of mortality 34% ± 4%). Our team was deployed a mean ± standard error of 16 ± 2 days after the declaration of an outbreak. There was a significant correlation between an earlier deployment of our clinical team and a lower mortality rate for that outbreak (Pearson's r = 0.70, p < .01). Interpretation: This retrospective, uncontrolled study of a non-standardized intervention has many potential limitations. However, the data suggest that timely deployment of our clinical response team may improve outcomes in the event of a large outbreak. This clinical team may be useful in future pandemics.

4.
Can J Anaesth ; 69(6): 774-781, 2022 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1756918

ABSTRACT

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many jurisdictions experienced surges in demand for critical care that strained or overwhelmed their healthcare system's ability to respond. A major surge necessitates a deviation from usual practices, including difficult decisions about how to allocate critical care resources. We present a framework to guide these decisions in the hope of saving the most lives as ethically as possible, while concurrently respecting, protecting, and fulfilling legal and human rights obligations. It was developed in Ontario in 2020-2021 through an iterative consultation process with diverse participants, but was adopted in other jurisdictions with some modifications. The framework features three levels of triage depending on the degree of the surge, and a system for prioritizing patients based on their short-term mortality risk following the onset of critical illness. It also includes processes aimed at promoting consistency and fairness across a region where many hospitals are expected to apply the same framework. No triage framework should ever be considered "final," and there is a need for further research to examine ethical issues related to critical care triage and to increase the extent and quality of evidence to inform critical care triage.


RéSUMé: Pendant la pandémie de COVID-19, de nombreuses régions ont connu une augmentation de la demande de soins intensifs qui a mis à rude épreuve ou dépassé la capacité de réponse du système de santé existant. Lors de toute augmentation importante de cette demande, un écart par rapport aux pratiques habituelles est nécessaire, y compris la prise de décisions difficiles sur la façon d'allouer les ressources en soins intensifs. Nous présentons un algorithme pour guider ces décisions dans l'espoir de sauver le plus de vies possibles et ce, de la manière la plus éthique possible, tout en respectant, en protégeant et en remplissant les obligations légales et en matière de droits de l'homme. Cet algorithme a été élaboré en Ontario en 2020-2021 dans le cadre d'un processus de consultation itératif avec divers participants, mais a été adopté dans d'autres juridictions avec quelques modifications. L'algorithme comprend trois niveaux de triage en fonction du degré d'augmentation de la demande, ainsi qu'un système permettant de prioriser les patients en fonction de leur risque de mortalité à court terme après l'apparition d'une maladie grave. Il comporte également des processus visant à promouvoir l'uniformité et l'équité dans une région où de nombreux hôpitaux vont appliquer le même algorithme. Aucun algorithme de triage ne devrait jamais être considéré comme « définitif ¼, et il est nécessaire d'approfondir les recherches pour examiner les questions éthiques liées au triage aux soins intensifs et accroître l'étendue et la qualité des données probantes afin d'éclairer le triage aux soins intensifs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Triage , Critical Care , Critical Illness/therapy , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Chest ; 161(2): 429-447, 2022 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1401309

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: After the publication of a 2014 consensus statement regarding mass critical care during public health emergencies, much has been learned about surge responses and the care of overwhelming numbers of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaps in prior pandemic planning were identified and require modification in the midst of severe ongoing surges throughout the world. RESEARCH QUESTION: A subcommittee from The Task Force for Mass Critical Care (TFMCC) investigated the most recent COVID-19 publications coupled with TFMCC members anecdotal experience in order to formulate operational strategies to optimize contingency level care, and prevent crisis care circumstances associated with increased mortality. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: TFMCC adopted a modified version of established rapid guideline methodologies from the World Health Organization and the Guidelines International Network-McMaster Guideline Development Checklist. With a consensus development process incorporating expert opinion to define important questions and extract evidence, the TFMCC developed relevant pandemic surge suggestions in a structured manner, incorporating peer-reviewed literature, "gray" evidence from lay media sources, and anecdotal experiential evidence. RESULTS: Ten suggestions were identified regarding staffing, load-balancing, communication, and technology. Staffing models are suggested with resilience strategies to support critical care staff. ICU surge strategies and strain indicators are suggested to enhance ICU prioritization tactics to maintain contingency level care and to avoid crisis triage, with early transfer strategies to further load-balance care. We suggest that intensivists and hospitalists be engaged with the incident command structure to ensure two-way communication, situational awareness, and the use of technology to support critical care delivery and families of patients in ICUs. INTERPRETATION: A subcommittee from the TFMCC offers interim evidence-informed operational strategies to assist hospitals and communities to plan for and respond to surge capacity demands resulting from COVID-19.


Subject(s)
Advisory Committees , COVID-19 , Critical Care , Delivery of Health Care/organization & administration , Surge Capacity , Triage , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/therapy , Critical Care/methods , Critical Care/organization & administration , Evidence-Based Practice/methods , Evidence-Based Practice/organization & administration , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Surge Capacity/organization & administration , Surge Capacity/standards , Triage/methods , Triage/standards , United States/epidemiology
9.
Chest ; 160(6): 2101-2111, 2021 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1271599

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The extent to which the degree of baseline frailty, as measured using standardized multidimensional health assessments before hospital admission, predicts survival among older adults after admission to an ICU remains unclear. RESEARCH QUESTION: Is baseline frailty an independent predictor of survival among older adults receiving care in an ICU? STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of community-dwelling older adults (age, ≥ 65 years) receiving public home services who were admitted to any ICU in Ontario, Canada, between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2015. All individuals underwent an interRAI Resident Assessment Instrument-Home Care (RAI-HC) assessment completed within 180 days of ICU admission. These assessments were linked to hospital discharge abstract records. Patients were categorized using frailty measures each calculated from the RAI-HC: a classification tree version of the Clinical Frailty Scale; the Frailty Index-Acute Care; and the Changes in Health, End-Stage Disease, Signs, and Symptoms Scale. One-year survival models were used to compare their performance. Patients were stratified based on the receipt of mechanical ventilation in the ICU. RESULTS: Of 24,499 individuals admitted to an ICU within 180 days of a RAI-HC assessment, 26.4% (n = 6,467) received mechanical ventilation. Overall, 43.0% (95% CI, 42.4%-43.6%) survived 365 days after ICU admission. In general, among the overall cohort and both mechanical ventilation subgroups, mortality hazards increased with the severity of baseline frailty. Models predicting survival 30, 90, and 365 days after admission to an ICU that adjusted for one of the frailty measures were more discriminant than reference models that adjusted only for age, sex, major clinical category, and area income quintile. INTERPRETATION: Severity of baseline frailty is independently associated with survival after ICU admission and should be considered when determining goals of care and treatment plans for people with critical illness.


Subject(s)
Critical Illness/mortality , Critical Illness/nursing , Frail Elderly , Geriatric Assessment , Home Care Services , Aged , Female , Humans , Male , Ontario , Predictive Value of Tests , Reproducibility of Results , Retrospective Studies , Survival Analysis
10.
Healthc Q ; 23(4): 17-22, 2021 Jan.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1040177

ABSTRACT

Patients with serious illnesses such as cancer, advanced organ failure, dementia and COVID-19 rely on medications to alleviate suffering from uncontrolled symptoms. Numerous actual or threatened shortages of key medications used to provide palliation have been reported during the COVID-19 pandemic. This article explores the nature of these shortages, factors that have contributed to them and strategies to mitigate them. It calls on all levels of the healthcare system and the government to address this problem. Shortages in these medications are as serious as shortages in medications used to cure or control diseases.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/drug therapy , Palliative Care , Pharmaceutical Preparations/supply & distribution , Canada , Humans
11.
J Am Geriatr Soc ; 68(8): 1636-1646, 2020 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-342880

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection causes high morbidity and mortality in older adults with chronic illnesses. Several trials are currently underway evaluating the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for acute infection. However, polypharmacy predisposes patients to increased risk of drug-drug interactions with hydroxychloroquine and may render many in this population ineligible to participate in trials. We aimed to quantify the degree of polypharmacy and burden of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) that older hospitalized adults are taking that would interact with hydroxychloroquine. METHODS: We reanalyzed data from the cohort of patients 65 years and older enrolled in the MedSafer pilot study. We first identified patients taking medications with potentially harmful drug-drug interactions with hydroxychloroquine that might exclude them from participation in a typical 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) therapeutic trial. Next, we identified medications that were flagged by MedSafer as potentially inappropriate and crafted guidance around medication management if contemplating the use of hydroxychloroquine. RESULTS: The cohort contained a total of 1,001 unique patients with complete data on their home medications at admission. Of these 1,001 patients, 590 (58.9%) were receiving one or more home medications that could potentially interact with hydroxychloroquine, and of these, 255 (43.2%) were flagged as potentially inappropriate by the MedSafer tool. Common classes of PIMs observed were antipsychotics, cardiac medications, and antidiabetic agents. CONCLUSION: The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of medication optimization and deprescribing PIMs in older adults. By acting now to reduce polypharmacy and use of PIMs, we can better prepare this vulnerable population for inclusion in trials and, if substantiated, pharmacologic treatment or prevention of COVID-19. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:1636-1646, 2020.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Deprescriptions , Hydroxychloroquine/administration & dosage , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Potentially Inappropriate Medication List/standards , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Clinical Trials as Topic , Female , Humans , Male , Pandemics , Patient Selection , Pilot Projects , Polypharmacy , SARS-CoV-2
12.
Chest ; 158(1): 212-225, 2020 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-46588

ABSTRACT

Public health emergencies have the potential to place enormous strain on health systems. The current pandemic of the novel 2019 coronavirus disease has required hospitals in numerous countries to expand their surge capacity to meet the needs of patients with critical illness. When even surge capacity is exceeded, however, principles of critical care triage may be needed as a means to allocate scarce resources, such as mechanical ventilators or key medications. The goal of a triage system is to direct limited resources towards patients most likely to benefit from them. Implementing a triage system requires careful coordination between clinicians, health systems, local and regional governments, and the public, with a goal of transparency to maintain trust. We discuss the principles of tertiary triage and methods for implementing such a system, emphasizing that these systems should serve only as a last resort. Even under triage, we must uphold our obligation to care for all patients as best possible under difficult circumstances.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral , Resource Allocation/organization & administration , Triage/organization & administration , Betacoronavirus/isolation & purification , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Critical Care/methods , Humans , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Public Health/ethics , Public Health/methods , Public Health/standards , SARS-CoV-2 , Surge Capacity/ethics , Surge Capacity/organization & administration
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