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Paramedic delivery of bad news: a novel dilemma during the COVID-19 crisis
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  1. Iain Campbell1,2
  1. 1Centre for Ethics in Medicine, University of Bristol Faculty of Health Sciences, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Paramedic, London Ambulance Service, London, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Iain Campbell, Centre for Ethics in Medicine, University of Bristol Faculty of Health Sciences, Bristol BS8 1TL, UK; iaincampbell8{at}gmail.com

Abstract

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, paramedics in the UK face unprecedented challenges in the care of acutely unwell patients and their family members. This article will describe and discuss a new ethical dilemma faced by clinicians in the out-of-hospital environment during this time, namely the delivery of bad news to family members who are required to remain at home and self-isolate while the critically unwell patient is transported to hospital. I will discuss some failings of current practice and reflect on some of the ethical and practical challenges confronting paramedics in these circumstances. I conclude by making three recommendations: first, that dedicated pastoral outreach teams ought to be set up during pandemics to assist family members of patients transported to hospital; second, I offer a framework for how bad news can be delivered during a lockdown in a less damaging way; and finally, that a new model of bad news delivery more suited for unplanned, time-pressured care should be developed.

  • clinical ethics
  • emergency medicine

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @Iain_A_C

  • Contributors This work is the author's own and does not represent the views of the institution the author works or studies in.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work.

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