Compassionate Communication and End-of-Life Care for Critically Ill Patients With SARS-CoV-2 Infection

J Clin Ethics. Summer 2020;31(2):191-193.


Public health strategies recommend isolating patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection. But compassionate care in the intensive care unit (ICU) is an ethical obligation of modern medicine that cannot be justified by the risk of infection or the lack of personal protective equipment. This article describes the experiences of clinicians in ICUs in the south of Spain promoted by the Andalusian Society of Intensive Care SAMIUC, in the hope it will serve to improve the conditions in which these patients die, and to help their families who suffer when they cannot say good-bye to their loved ones. In the south of Spain, healthcare professionals use daily videoconferencing to improve communication between clinicians, patients, and their relatives who cannot visit them in the ICU. This close communication allows families to see their loved ones and extends communication between healthcare professionals, patients, and their relatives. To allow family members to accompany patients at the end of life, it is possible to adapt public health rules to the epidemic situation.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • Communication
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Critical Illness*
  • Empathy
  • Family
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Pandemics / ethics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy*
  • Spain
  • Terminal Care / ethics*

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2