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Journal Articles Nursing Ethics Year : 2022

Multidisciplinary Support for Ethics Deliberations during the First COVID Wave


Background The first COVID-19 wave started in February 2020 in France. The influx of patients requiring emergency care and high-level technicity led healthcare professionals to fear saturation of available care. In that context, the multidisciplinary Ethics- Support Cell (EST) was created to help medical teams consider the decisions that could potentially be sources of ethical dilemmas. Objectives The primary objective was to prospectively collect information on requests for EST assistance from 23 March to 9 May 2020. The secondary aim was to describe the Cell's functions during that period. Research design This observational, real-time study of requests for Cell consultations concerned ethical dilemmas arising during a public health crisis. The EST created a grid to collect relevant information (clinical, patient's/designated representative's preferences and ethical principles strained by the situation), thereby assuring that each EST asked the same questions, in the same order. Participants and research context Only our university hospital's clinicians could request EST intervention. Ethical considerations The hospital Research Ethics Committee approved this study (no. CER-2020-107). The patient, his/her family, or designated representative was informed of this ethics consultation and most met with EST members, which enabled them to express their preferences and/or opposition. Findings/results 33 requests (patients' mean age: 80.8 years; 29 had COVID-19: 24 with dyspnea, 30 with comorbidities). 17 Emergency Department solicitations concerned ICU admission, without reference to resource constraints; others addressed therapeutic proportionality dilemmas. Discussion Intervention-request motives concerned limited resources and treatment intensity. Management revolved around three axes: the treatment option most appropriate for the patient, the feasibility of implementation, and dignified care for the patient. Conclusions COVID-19 crisis forced hospitals to envisage prioritization of ICU access. Established decision-making criteria and protocols do not enable healthcare professionals to escape ethical dilemmas. That acknowledgement highlights ethical risks, enhances the added-value of nursing and encourages all players to be vigilant to pursue collective deliberations to achieve clear and transparent decisions.
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Dates and versions

hal-03896040 , version 1 (13-12-2022)



Bénédicte Lombart, Laura Moïsi, Valérie Bellamy, Valérie Landolfini, Marie-Josée Manifacier, et al.. Multidisciplinary Support for Ethics Deliberations during the First COVID Wave. Nursing Ethics, 2022, 29 (4), pp.833--843. ⟨10.1177/09697330211066575⟩. ⟨hal-03896040⟩
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