BACKGROUND: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends palliative care for children at the diagnosis of serious illness. Yet few children who die receive specialty palliative care consultation, and when it is provided, palliative care consultation tends to occur after >75% of the time from diagnosis until death. Focusing on the timing of palliative consultation in relation to the date of diagnosis, we evaluated factors predicting earlier receipt of pediatric palliative care in a cohort of decedents.
METHODS: We retrospectively identified patients diagnosed with a life-limiting disease who died at our hospital in 2015-2017 after at least 1 inpatient palliative medicine consultation. Our primary outcome was time from palliative-qualifying diagnosis to earliest receipt of specialty palliative care. A survival analysis was used to describe factors associated with earlier receipt of palliative care.
RESULTS: The analysis included 180 patients (median age at diagnosis <1 month [interquartile range (IQR): 0-77]). The median time to first palliative consultation was 7 days after diagnosis (IQR: 2-63), compared with a median of 50 days between diagnosis and death (IQR: 7-210). On the multivariable analysis, palliative consultation occurred earlier for patients who had cardiovascular diagnoses, had private insurance, and were of African American race.
CONCLUSIONS: In a cohort of decedents at our institution, palliative consultation occurred much earlier than has been previously reported. We also identify factors associated with delayed receipt of palliative care among children who are dying that reveal further opportunities to improve access to specialty palliative care.
Background: The impact of specialty pediatric palliative care (PPC) on intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay for children is unclear.
Objective: To estimate the impact of PPC consultation by analyzing ICU stay as a dynamic outcome over the course of hospitalization.
Patients and Methods: Retrospective cohort study of children hospitalized with diagnoses suggested as referral triggers for PPC at a large academic children's hospital. We assessed ICU stay according to PPC consultation and, using a patient-day analysis, applied multivariable mixed effects logistic regression to predict the odds of being in the ICU on a given day.
Results: The analytic sample included 777 admissions (11,954 hospital days), of which 100 admissions (13%) included PPC consultation. Principal patient demographics were age 8 ± 6 years, 55% male sex, 71% white race, and 52% commercial insurance. Cardiac diagnoses were most frequent (29%) followed by gastrointestinal (22%) and malignant (20%) conditions. Although total ICU stay was longer for admissions, including PPC consultation (compared to admissions where PPC was not consulted), the odds of being in the ICU on a given day were reduced by 79% after PPC consultation (odds ratio [OR] = 0.21; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.13–0.34; p < 0.001) for children with cancer and 85% (OR = 0.15; 95% CI: 0.08–0.26; p < 0.001) for children with nononcologic conditions.
Conclusions: Among children hospitalized with a diagnosis deemed eligible for specialty PPC, the likelihood of being in the ICU on a given day was strongly reduced after PPC consultation, supporting the value of PPC.
OBJECTIVE: To describe our institutional experience with a four-week pediatric HPM elective rotation and its impact on residents' self-rated competencies.
BACKGROUND: In the spirit of bolstering primary hospice and palliative medicine (HPM) skills of all pediatricians, it is unclear how best to teach pediatric HPM. An elective rotation during residency may serve this need.
METHODS: An anonymous online survey was distributed to pediatric and internal medicine/pediatrics residents at a single, tertiary academic children's hospital. Respondents were asked to rate education, experience, and comfort with five aspects of communication with families of children with terminal illnesses and six domains of managing the symptoms of terminal illnesses. Self-ratings were recorded on a 1-5 scale: none, minimal, moderate, good, or excellent. Demographic data, including details of training and prior HPM training, were collected. Respondents completed a set of six questions gauging their attitude toward palliative care in general and at the study institution specifically.
RESULTS: All respondents desire more HPM training. Those residents who self-selected to complete a pediatric HPM elective rotation had significantly higher self-ratings in 10 of 11 competency/skill domains. Free-text comments expressed concern about reliance on the specialty HPM team.
DISCUSSION: A pediatric HPM elective can significantly increase residents' self-rated competency. Such rotations are an under-realized opportunity in developing the primary HPM skills of pediatricians, but wider adoption is restricted by the limited availability of pediatric HPM rotations and limited elective time during training.