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VOLUME 24 , ISSUE 6 ( June, 2020 ) > List of Articles


Symptom Management and Supportive Care of Serious COVID-19 Patients and their Families in India

Naveen Salins, Roop Gursahani, Srinagesh Simha, Sushma Bhatnagar

Citation Information : Salins N, Gursahani R, Simha S, Bhatnagar S. Symptom Management and Supportive Care of Serious COVID-19 Patients and their Families in India. Indian J Crit Care Med 2020; 24 (6):435-444.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10071-23400

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 30-07-2020

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2020; The Author(s).


Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic is causing a worldwide humanitarian crisis. Old age, comorbid conditions, end-stage organ impairment, and advanced cancer, increase the risk of mortality in serious COVID-19. A subset of serious COVID-19 patients with serious acute respiratory illness may be triaged not to receive aggressive intensive care unit (ICU) treatment and ventilation or may be discontinued from ventilation due to their underlying conditions. Those not eligible for aggressive ICU measures should receive appropriate symptom management. Early warning scores (EWS), oxygen saturation, and respiratory rate, can facilitate categorizing COVID-19 patients as stable, unstable, and end of life. Breathlessness, delirium, respiratory secretions, and pain, are the key symptoms that need to be assessed and palliated. Palliative sedation measures are needed to manage intractable symptoms. Goals of care should be discussed, and advance care plan should be made in patients who are unlikely to benefit from aggressive ICU measures and ventilation. For patients who are already in an ICU, either ventilated or needing ventilation, a futility assessment is made. If there is a consensus on futility, a family meeting is conducted either virtually or face to face depending on the infection risk and infection control protocol. The family should be sensitively communicated about the futility of ICU measures and foregoing life-sustaining treatment. Family meeting outcomes are documented, and consent for foregoing life-sustaining treatment is obtained. Appropriate symptom management enables comfort at the end of life to all serious COVID-19 patients not receiving or not eligible to receive ICU measures and ventilation.

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