We know that several palliative care centres are struggling with various ethical issues in relation to patient care in the context of the COVID crisis. Our Committee for Applied Ethics helped us in several ways, like taking an external view and giving recommendations particularly in the matter of balancing the needs of patients and families with safety of the care providers.
But they also could do much more than that.
One dilemma that we presented to them came out of quarantine at home for returnees from other countries or other states. We got an informal advisory that if someone is quarantined at home, palliative care teams should not enter that home to give care to the patient.
But what if that patient does need attention? Like a catheter change? Or a physical examination? We got different advices from different sources: move the patient to a hospital, or move the patient to another home if there is a choice.
We found it difficult to accept. For the comfort of a quarantined person, risk the comfort of a person already suffering from serious health related suffering?
We followed the committee’s advice and approached the Government. We are glad to see the prompt action: if there is a palliative care patient in the home, someone returning from another state or country should not be quarantined in that home.