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Neonatal end of life care in a tertiary care centre in Canada: a brief report

Journal title
Zhongguo dang dai er ke za zhi = Chinese journal of contemporary pediatrics
Publication year
Sankaran, K.; Hedin, E.; Hodgson-Viden, H.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the processes followed by a neonatal team engaging parents with respect to end of life care of babies in whom long term survival was negligible or impossible; and to describe feedback from these parents after death of their child. METHODS: A retrospective review was conducted of health records of neonates who had died receiving palliative care over a period of 5 years at a tertiary neonatal centre. Specific inclusion criteria were determined in advance that identified care given by a dedicated group of caregivers. RESULTS: Thirty infants met eligibility criteria. After excluding one outlier an average of 4 discussions occurred with families before an end of life decision was arrived at. Switching from aggressive care to comfort care was a more common decision-making route than having palliative care from the outset. Ninety per cent of families indicated satisfaction with the decision making process at follow-up and more than half of them returned later to meet with the NICU team. Some concerns were expressed about the availability of neonatologists at weekends. CONCLUSIONS: A compassionate and humane approach to the family with honesty and empathy creates a positive environment for decision-making. An available, experienced team willing to engage families repeatedly is beneficial. Initiating intensive care with subsequent palliative care is acceptable to families and caregivers.

Research abstracts