Ethics of kidney care in the era of COVID-19

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Kidney International


The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic presents significant challenges for health systems globally, including substantive ethical dilemmas that may pose specific concerns in the context of care for people with kidney disease. Ethical concerns may arise as changes in policy and practice affect the ability of all health professionals to fulfill their ethical duties toward their patients in providing best practice care. In this article, we briefly describe such concerns and elaborate on issues of particular ethical complexity in kidney care: equitable access to dialysis during pandemic surges; balancing the risks and benefits of different kidney failure treatments, specifically with regard to suspending kidney transplantation programs and prioritizing home dialysis, and barriers to shared decision-making; and ensuring ethical practice when using unproven interventions. We present preliminary advice on how to approach these issues and recommend urgent efforts to develop resources that will support health professionals and patients in managing them.

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