End-of-Life Care During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic: The 3 Wishes Program
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Patient- and family-centered end-of-life care can be difficult to achieve in light of visitation restrictions and infection-prevention measures. We evaluated how the 3 Wishes Program evolved to allow continued provision of compassionate end-of-life care for critically ill patients during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
DesignThis is a prospective observational study where data were collected 1 year prior to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and 1 year after (from March 1, 2019, to March 31, 2021). The number of deceased patients whose care involved the 3 Wishes Program, their characteristics, and wishes were compared between prepandemic and pandemic periods.
SettingSix adult ICUs of a two-hospital health system in Los Angeles.
PatientsDeceased patients whose care involved the 3 Wishes Program.
InterventionsThe 3 Wishes Program is a palliative care intervention in which individualized wishes are implemented for dying patients and their families.
Measurements and main resultsDuring the study period, the end-of-life care for 523 patients involved the 3 Wishes Program; more patients received the 3 Wishes Program as part of their end-of-life care during the pandemic period than during the prepandemic study period (24.8 vs 17.6 patients/mo; p = 0.044). Patients who died during the pandemic compared with prepandemic were less likely to have family at the bedside and more likely to have postmortem wishes fulfilled for their families. Compared with the 736 wishes implemented during the prepandemic period, the 969 wishes completed during the pandemic were more likely to involve keepsakes. Wishes were most commonly implemented by bedside nurses, although the 3 Wishes Program project manager (not involved in the patient's clinical care) was more likely to assist remotely during the pandemic (24.8% vs 12.1%; p < 0.001).
ConclusionsBedside innovations, programmatic adaptations, and institutional support made it possible for healthcare workers to continue the 3 Wishes Program and provide compassionate end-of-life care in the ICU during this pandemic.