04.03.2022 | Original Contributions
Terminal care in oldest old dying from COVID-19 in the acute hospital
A multicenter study describing pharmacological treatment in the last 24 h
Erschienen in: Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie | Ausgabe 2/2022Einloggen, um Zugang zu erhalten
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a high mortality, especially in the oldest old. Dying from COVID-19 is often characterized by symptoms such as breathlessness and agitation but data concerning medical treatment in the dying phase are limited.
This study describes the administration of oxygen, opioids and benzodiazepines in the last 24 h before death in patients 80 years or older dying from COVID-19 on acute hospital wards.
Material and methods
In this multi-centric retrospective study, patients, 80 years and older, admitted to the acute hospital in March and April 2020 were recruited from 10 acute Belgian hospitals. They all were diagnosed with COVID-19 and died on non-ICU wards with COVID-19. Administration of oxygen, opioids and benzodiazepines in the last 24 h before death was registered.
Eighty-five percent of patients received oxygen, half of them even by means of a mask providing at least 10l oxygen per minute. The majority (84.3%) of patients were treated with opioids (morphine). Mean dosage of SC morphine equivalent was 31.3 mg/24 h (range 2–120 mg; SD 21.6 mg). More than half of patients (52.8%) received benzodiazepines, mostly midazolam. Mean dosage of midazolam was 20.4 mg/24 h (range 1–100 mg; SD 15.4 mg). Dosages of morphine and midazolam did not differ depending on frailty or comorbidities. Older COVID-19 patients dying with respiratory failure had higher midazolam dosage (p 0.002) but not morphine dosage (p 0.11).
A high proportion of patients 80 years and older and dying with COVID-19 in the hospital, were treated with oxygen, opioids and benzodiazepines in the last 24 h before death. With this descriptive study, we hope to contribute to the discussion and further research on the optimization of symptom control in an older population dying from/with COVID-19.