Ethical guidance in treating COVID-19 patients

NEW guidance on ethical decision-making in the management of COVID-19 has been published by the office of the CMO in Scotland.

The guidance, produced by a senior clinical team chaired by Professor Tom Evans, is intended to be read alongside national decision-making and escalation guidance but recognising that in a small number of complex situations additional ethical advice or decision-making support will be useful for healthcare workers.

Having been produced in a relatively short space of time and amidst an evolving situation, the guidance will be continuously reviewed and updated as the evidence and experience of COVID-19 grows.

This ethical guidance was published alongside another document offering clinical advice based on a patient journey from symptoms at home through to hospital admission and into critical care. It features sections on end-of-life care and staff wellbeing.

Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “The College welcomes this guidance, which sets out the patient care pathway and supports clinicians to make complex or challenging decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We note in particular the requirement for psychological support for our front line clinicians, when they are having to make decisions outside of normal practice.

“It is therefore vital that NHS Boards follow this new guidance and establish ethical advice and support groups as quickly as possible, so that clinicians have comprehensive support when asked to take increased risks or make complex and difficult decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.”