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Accepted Contribution:

(Forbidden) visits to patients: rule breaking/exception and palliative justifications during the COVID-19 pandemic  


Oriana Rainho Brás (Universidade NOVA Lisboa)
David Monteiro (Instituto Politécnico de Portalegre)

Contribution short abstract:

During the COVID-19 pandemic Portuguese hospitals forbade visits to interned patients. Palliative teams sought ad hoc solutions so that dying patients received visits, and justified them by articulating biomedical and moral reasonings concerning patients’, families’, and professionals' well-being.

Contribution long abstract:

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed important challenges to healthcare professionals, teams and institutions worldwide, namely in the domain of Palliative Care, where multidisciplinary teams of specialized professionals provide assistance to the clinical and social needs of terminally-ill patients and their families. In Portugal, hospital administrations activated several measures to ensure the safety of patients and professionals, among which the prohibition of visits to interned patients. Concerned with the negative effects of depriving terminally-ill patients and their families of face-to-face contact, several palliative care teams have since sought to secure ad hoc solutions to ensure that patients receive visits, under specific conditions, sometimes in conflict with the rules imposed by hospital administrations. We argue that, by articulating biomedical and moral reasonings on patients’ life time and considering the social character of dying, palliative professionals configure patients’ time as irreplaceable and therefore exceptional, and thus justify such solutions as essential to patients’, families’, and professionals’ well-being.

Panel Res09a
Good ends and dubious means: rule breaking and justification