Ethical issues encountered by French intensive care unit caregivers during the f

Ethical issues encountered by French intensive care unit caregivers during the first COVID-19 outbreak

Corentin Therond, Bérengère Saliba-Serre, Pierre Le Coz, Béatrice Eon, Fabrice Michel, Vincent Piriou, Antoine Lamblin, Marion Douplat

Can J Anaesth. 2023 Sep 25. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: We aimed to describe the ethical issues encountered by health care workers during the first COVID-19 outbreak in French intensive care units (ICUs), and the factors associated with their emergence.

Methods: This descriptive multicentre survey study was conducted by distributing a questionnaire to 26 French ICUs, from 1 June to 1 October 2020. Physicians, residents, nurses, and orderlies who worked in an ICU during the first COVID-19 outbreak were included. Multiple logistic regression models were performed to identify the factors associated with ethical issues.

Results: Among the 4,670 questionnaires sent out, 1,188 responses were received, giving a participation rate of 25.4%. Overall, 953 participants (80.2%) reported experiencing issue(s) while caring for patients during the first COVID-19 outbreak. The most common issues encountered concerned the restriction of family visits in the ICU (91.7%) and the risk of contamination for health care workers (72.3%). Nurses and orderlies faced this latter issue more than physicians (adjusted odds ratio [ORa], 2.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.87 to 4.76; P < 0.001 and ORa, 4.35; 95% CI, 2.08 to 9.12; P < 0.001, respectively). They also faced more the issue "act contrary to the patient's advance directives" (ORa, 4.59; 95% CI, 1.74 to 12.08; P < 0.01 and ORa, 10.65; 95% CI, 3.71 to 30.60; P < 0.001, respectively). A total of 1,132 (86.9%) respondents thought that ethics training should be better integrated into the initial training of health care workers.

Conclusion: Eight out of ten responding French ICU health care workers experienced ethical issues during the first COVID-19 outbreak. Identifying these issues is a first step towards anticipating and managing such issues, particularly in the context of potential future health crises.
Keywords: COVID-19; ICU; critical care; ethical.

PMID: 37749366  DOI: 10.1007/s12630-023-02585-1

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