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Alleviating the suffering of seriously ill children

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Kane, J. R.; Primomo, M.

Modern medicine has largely focused on the physical aspects of disease, aggressively attacking the illness, often at the expense of caring for pain and suffering. Medical interventions based solely on the diagnosis and treatment of disease limit the medical care of the severely ill child. Such an approach is particularly detrimental when caring for the terminally ill. Successful care of children with chronic, life- threatening, or terminal illnesses requires a comprehensive assessment of their physical, psychological, and spiritual needs as well as a process of collaboration between members of the multiple disciplines involved in the care of the patient and the family unit as a whole. Supportive/palliative care serves as a bridge between a scientific (disease-oriented) and humanistic (person-oriented) approach to patient care. Bridging this gap early in the course of life-threatening illness is essential for successful palliative intervention to relieve suffering and improve the quality of life for the child and his or her family. A model that introduces supportive, palliative, and hospice services into the mainstream of medical therapy is emphasized as a standard for the care of all children with significant chronic, life- threatening, or terminal illness. This article expands on a previous paper published in the American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care (Kane JR, Barber RG, Jordan M, et al.: Supportive/palliative care of children suffering from life-threatening and terminal illness. May/June 2000; 17(3): 165-172).

Research abstracts