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A Comparison of Circumstances at the End of Life in a Hospital Setting for Children With Palliative Care Involvement Versus Those Without

Journal title
Journal of pain and symptom management
Publication year
Osenga, K.; Postier, A.; Dreyfus, J.; Foster, L.; Teeple, W.; Friedrichsdorf, S. J.

CONTEXT: Specialized pediatric palliative care (PPC) services have become more common in urban pediatric hospital settings, although little is known about palliative care specialist involvement. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to compare circumstances before death in children who spent their last days of life in an inpatient pediatric hospital setting, with or without PPC provider involvement during their inpatient stay. METHODS: Retrospective chart review of medical records of children for the last inpatient stay that resulted in death at a children’s hospital setting between January 2012 through June 2013. The setting was a free-standing, 385-bed tertiary care children’s hospital. RESULTS: Charts were reviewed for 114 children between 0 and 18 years of age, who were hospitalized for at least 24 hours before their death. Half of the children who died as inpatients were infants (median age five weeks). Children who received an inpatient PPC consult (25% of the sample) experienced 1) a higher rate of pain assessments, 2) better documentation around specific actions to manage pain, 3) greater odds of receiving integrative medicine services, 4) fewer diagnostic/monitoring procedures (e.g., blood gases, blood draws, placements of intravenous lines) in the last 48 hours of life, and 5) nearly eight times greater odds of having a do-not-resuscitate order in place at the time of death. CONCLUSION: The integration of a PPC team was associated with fewer diagnostic/monitoring procedures and improved pain management documentation in this study of 114 children who died as inpatients.

Research abstracts