Objectives: Palliative care (PC) referral in serious and critical COVID-19 improves decision-making, health resource utilisation, end-of-life symptom management and family support. In this study, we explored developing a systematic decision-making matrix for PC referral in COVID-19 and audited its outcomes. Materials and Methods: A team of interdisciplinary experts developed a hospital COVID-19 PC plan. PC referral and outcomes of PC referral in hospitalised COVID-19 patients were audited. Results: Out of 1575 inpatients, 1066 (67.7%) had mild and 509 (32.3%) had serious and critical COVID-19 illness. Among 50 (3.1%) referred to PC, 5 (0.4%) had mild and 45 (8.8%) had serious and critical COVID-19 illness. Out of 45 serious and critical COVID-19 patients referred to PC, 38 (84%) received end-of-life care (EOLC), 4 (9%) self-discharged against medical advice and 3 (7%) recovered. Forty-seven (94%) were referred for goals-of-care discussion. About 78% received opioids, 70% benzodiazepines and 42% haloperidol for symptom management. Among 45 serious and critical COVID-19 patients referred to PC, foregoing life-sustaining treatment was documented in 43 (96%) but implemented only in 23 (53%). Out of 38 who received EOLC, ICU was the place of death in 31 (82%) and ward in 7 (18%). Conclusion: Despite interdisciplinary experts developing a hospital COVID-19 PC, low referral of serious and critical COVID-19 patients to PC was observed. PC referral enabled access to management of end-of-life symptoms and facilitated limitation of life-sustaining treatment in some COVID-19 patients with serious illness. Educating critical care physicians about the scope of PC in the COVID-19 setting might improve PC referral.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-279
Number of pages8
JournalIndian Journal of Palliative Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 07-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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