Primary and Specialist-Level Palliative Care during the spring 2020 COVID-19 Surge: A Single-Center Experience in the Bronx

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Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic surge necessitated a rapid increase in provision of goals of care communication for patients with respiratory failure and high risk of death. We aimed to describe the outcomes and incidence of code status changes for mechanically ventilated patients in an acute care hospital after deploying strategies to enhance primary palliative care, including provision of goals of care communication scripts to front-line physicians. Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study including all patients admitted with COVID-19 disease and requiring mechanical ventilation during a 2-week period in March and April of 2020. Results: Of the 440 total patients, 327 (74.3%) died. 162 patients received a documented attempt at cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and only 4 (2.5%) of them survived. No patient above the age of 64 survived a CPR attempt. On admission, 404 patients (92.8%) were Full Code. 165 patients (37.5%) had a code status change. Almost half of the patients (n = 219) had a palliative care consult. Patients with a palliative care consult were more likely to have a code status change (56.6% v. 18.6%, χ2 = 68.0, p < 0.01). Discussion: Mechanically ventilated patients had a high mortality, and CPR did not result in survival to discharge in patients over 65. Palliative care specialists are needed to guide goals of care discussions during the COVID-19 pandemic, as there are numerous barriers to equipping primary care teams to lead such discussions. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the vital role of palliative care in disaster response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)598-602
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Sars-CoV-2
  • cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • code status
  • communication
  • disaster preparedness
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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