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© The Author(s) 2020. Objectives: A vital component of the coronavirus response is care of the dying COVID-19 patient. We document the demographics, symptoms experienced, medications required, effectiveness observed, and challenges to high-quality holistic palliative care in 31 patients. This will aid colleagues in primary and secondary care settings anticipate common symptoms and formulate management plans. Methods: A retrospective survey was conducted of patients referred to the hospital palliative care service in a tertiary hospital, south east of England between March 21 and April 26, 2020. Patients included had a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 via reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction nasopharyngeal swab for SARS-Cov-2 or radiological evidence of COVID-19. Results: The thirty-one patients included were predominantly male (77%), elderly (median [interquartile range]: 84 [76-89]), and had multiple (4 [3-5]) comorbidities. Referral was made in the last 2 [1-3] days of life. Common symptoms were breathlessness (84%) and delirium (77%). Fifty-eight percent of patients received at least 1 “as required” dose of an opioid or midazolam in the 24 hours before death. Sixty percent of patients needed a continuous subcutaneous infusion and the median morphine dose was 10 mg S/C per 24 hours and midazolam 10 mg S/C per 24 hours. Nineteen percent of our cohort had a loved one or relative present when dying. Conclusion: We provide additional data to the internationally reported pool examining death arising from infection with SARS-CoV-19. The majority of patients had symptoms controlled with low doses of morphine and midazolam, and death was rapid. The impact of low visitation during dying needs exploring.

Original publication




Journal article


American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Publication Date





988 - 991