Many unique features of COVID-19 challenge the fundamental ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence and justice. It is important to focus on the primary duty of the healthcare provider to mitigate suffering.
Many elements of suffering presented by COVID-19 need to be overcome with a strategy focusing on health-related suffering. Attention to symptom control can be ensured by online education of treating doctors and by making essential medicines available, including controlled medicines. Much psychosocial suffering can be lessened by equipping healthcare providers with the required training, by recruitment and empowerment of medical social workers or counsellors, and by the use of technology including mobile phones. For the dying and their families, a final farewell at least with a telephone conversation would ease the ache of the loss somewhat. Amidst all the horror of the abrupt loss, such a conversation could well be one that brings a little peace to the dying and a precious memory for the bereaved family to cherish.
Read the article by Dr M. R. Rajagopal in Indian Journal of Medical Ethics. To comfort always: Are we ignoring this duty in Covid protocols?