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Predictors to forgo resuscitative effort during Covid-19 critical illness at the height of the pandemic : A retrospective cohort study.

Mesfin N, Fischman A, Garcia MA, Johnson S, Parikh R, Wiener RS. Predictors to forgo resuscitative effort during Covid-19 critical illness at the height of the pandemic : A retrospective cohort study. Palliative Medicine. 2021 Sep 1; 35(8):1519-1524.

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BACKGROUND: Early in the Covid-19 pandemic, there was uncertainty regarding critical illness prognosis and challenges to traditional face-to-face family meetings. Ethnic minority populations have suffered disproportionately worse outcomes during the pandemic, which may in part relate to differences in end-of-life decision-making. AIM: Characterize patterns of and factors associated with decisions to forgo resuscitative efforts, as measured by do-not-resuscitate orders, during critical illness with Covid-19. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort with medical record abstraction. SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients diagnosed with SARS-Cov-2 virus via polymerase chain reaction and admitted to the intensive care unit at an academic hospital, which cares for the city''s underserved communities, between March 1 and June 7, 2020 who underwent invasive mechanical ventilation for at least 48 hours. RESULTS: In this cohort ( = 155), 45% were black people, and 51% spoke English as their primary language. Median time to first goals-of-care conversation was 3.9 days (IQR 1.9-7.6) after intensive care unit admission. Overall 61/155 patients (39%) transitioned to do-not-resuscitate status, and 50/62 (82%) patients who died had do-not-resuscitate orders. Multivariate analysis shows age and palliative care involvement as the strongest predictors of decision to instate do-not-resuscitate order. There was no association between race, ethnicity, or language and decisions to forego resuscitation. CONCLUSIONS: During this time of crisis and uncertainty with limited resources and strained communication, time to first goals of care conversation was shorter than in pre-pandemic studies, but rates of foregoing resuscitation remained similar, with no differences observed by race, ethnicity, or language. This study suggests that early palliative care involvement and non-traditional communications, including videoconferencing, to facilitate goals of care conversations could have mitigated potential disparities in end-of-life decision making patterns during the pandemic.

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