Improving Family Access to Dying Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic


THE LANCET — In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, most health-care organisations have implemented policies to restrict visitor access. Although there are exceptions to some of these policies, including limited visiting for patients nearing the end of life, they still have profound effects on the dying and their family members. We are still in the midst of the pandemic, but there are compelling reasons to expand access of family members to their loved ones as they near the end of life, despite the risk of infection.

Hospital visitor policies represent an attempt to balance two competing priorities. Restrictions reduce the chance of harm from infection, but increase the chance of harm from isolation or separation. Exemptions can reduce isolation and allow for a more compassionate response to patients nearing the end of life, but they potentially increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Darcie Tanner

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