During the pandemic, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) was instituted for patients with COVID-19 hypoxemia refractory to mechanical ventilation support. Although some patients had favorable outcomes, many who survived hospitalization were left with significant functional disability. Palliative care consultation with family members of ECMO patients has been studied, but the focus has primarily been on end-of-life care and not on overall care expectations.

Siddiqui and colleagues implemented an early, scripted palliative care intervention for families of patients with COVID-19 receiving ECMO. After interviewing families, most within 24 to 72 hours of ECMO initiation, they identified these themes:

  • Social isolation and related grief of not being at the patient’s bedside

  • Helping patients’ children adjust to a new normal

  • Coping with multiple family members suffering from COVID-19

  • Importance of faith and spirituality

  • Need for hope and gratitude

  • Futility of prolonged ECMO therapy

Palliative care has expanded to care for patients at all stages...

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