This article argues that while the presence and influence of "futility" as a concept in medical decision-making has declined over the past decade, medicine is seeing the rise of a new concept with similar features: suffering. Like futility, suffering may appear to have a consistent meaning, but in actuality, the concept is colloquially invoked to refer to very different experiences. Like "futility," claims of patient "suffering" have been used (perhaps sometimes consciously, but most often unconsciously) to smuggle value judgments about quality of life into decision-making. And like "futility," it would behoove us to recognize the need for new, clearer terminology. This article will focus specifically on secondhand claims of patient suffering in pediatrics, but the conclusions could be similarly applied to medical decisions for adults being made by surrogate decision-makers. While I will argue that suffering, like futility, is not sufficient wholesale justification for making unilateral treatment decisions, I will also argue that claims of patient suffering cannot be ignored, and that they almost always deserve some kind of response. In the final section, I offer practical suggestions for how to respond to claims of patient suffering.
Objective: To describe how breaking bad news (BBN) is currently taught in Canadian general paediatric residency programs and the confidence level of fourth year paediatric residents (Ped-PGY4) in BBN and managing end-of-life-care (EOLC).
Methods: A prospective, cross-sectional survey of General Paediatric Residency Program Directors (PDs) and Ped-PGY4s was conducted.
Results: When learning to BBN, residents state faculty observation (22/23) and interactive workshops (14/23) are the most helpful, while PDs state interactive workshops (9/16) and deliberate practice (5/16) are ideal. Residents identified a knowledge gap and discomfort with providing anticipatory guidance, and symptom management, including prescribing opioids.
Conclusions: In the era of competency-based medical education, there is an opportunity to create a standardized national curriculum addressing universal competencies related to BBN and EOLC.
BACKGROUND: The death of a child is regarded as one of the most devastating events for a family. Families are reliant on nurses to not only provide end-of-life care but also to support and care for grieving families in a way that is sensitive to their cultural and religious needs and preferences.
AIMS: The aim of this study was to explore the perceived impact and influence of cultural diversity on how neonatal and paediatric intensive care nurses care for Muslim families before and after the death of infants/children.
DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive approach was used in this study, conducted in Saudi Arabia.
METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were used to gather data from a convenience sample of registered nurses working in neonatal and paediatric intensive care, with experience in providing end-of-life care. Interviews were conducted between July and November, 2018. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for analysis.
RESULTS: Thirteen registered nurses participated; all were born overseas, identified with various faiths and spoke English in the workplace. A respect for diversity and care of the family was prioritized yet impacted by communication challenges. Caring and respect was demonstrated by facilitating important cultural and religious practices important in the Muslim faith. Self-care was identified as important, transcending the culturally diverse nature of the nursing workforce.
CONCLUSIONS: Significant challenges exist for a culturally diverse nursing workforce in providing care to a Saudi Muslim population of infants/children and families, before and after a death. Their overriding commitment to respect for others, and an openness to cultural diversity and difference, aided in overcoming the inherent challenges in providing culturally sensitive end-of-life care that meets the needs of Muslim families. These findings provide valuable insights for intensive care clinicians in other countries to address challenges associated with cultural diversity.
OBJECTIVE: to identify, in scientific productions, nursing interventions in palliative care in children and adolescents with cancer.
METHOD: integrative review of the literature through the databases: CINAHL, MEDLINE, IBECS, LILACS and SCIELO, carried out in October and November 2017.
RESULTS: we analyzed 18 articles that met the inclusion criteria. The results showed that, among the articles selected, Brazil is the country with the largest number of publications and that interventions such as music therapy, massage, ludic application, early consultation of palliative care, social interventions and physical exercises aimed at the resolution of a specific symptom obtained better results when compared to interventions that aimed at the comprehensiveness of palliative care.
FINAL CONSIDERATION: we conclude that greater emphasis should be given to palliative care in academic and professional training and that further studies in search of the best evidence should be conducted to support nursing Evidence-Based Practices.
BACKGROUND: A child's death affects not only family members but also healthcare professionals involved in patient care. However, the education system for bereavement care in Japan is not systematically established, and care provided is based on healthcare professionals' experiences. We aimed to investigate pediatricians' recognition of and actual circumstances involved in bereavement care in Japan.
METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted at four facilities in Japan. Data collected with semi-structured interviews of 11 pediatricians were assessed using inductive qualitative analysis.
RESULTS: Pediatricians' recognition of bereavement care was categorized as follows: (1) developing relationships with families before a child's death is important in bereavement care; (2) after the child dies, family involvement is left to the doctor's discretion; (3) coping with a child's death myself through past experience is essential; (4) doctors involved in a child's death also experience mental burden; and (5) a system for the family's bereavement care must be established. Two categories were established according to actual circumstances involved in bereavement care: (1) attention must be given to the emotions of the families who lost a child; (2) doctors' involvement with bereaved families depends on doctors' recognition and expertise.
CONCLUSION: Japanese pediatricians provided bereavement care to families who lost their children in a non-systemized manner. This is necessitates improvement of the self-care of healthcare professionals for grief by improving bereavement care-related education. Additionally, healthcare professionals must be trained, and a national-level provision system must be established to provide high-quality bereavement care for families who lose a child.
Palliative care services are beneficial for pediatric neurology patients with chronic, life-limiting illnesses. However, timely referral to palliative care may be impeded due to an inability to identify appropriate patients. The aim of this pilot case-control study was to test a quantitative measure for identifying patients with unmet palliative care needs to facilitate appropriate referrals. First, a random subset of pediatric neurology patients were screened for number of hospital admissions, emergency center visits, and problems on the problem list. Screening results led to the hypothesis that having six or more hospital admissions in one year indicated unmet palliative care needs. Next, hospital admissions in the past year were counted for all patients admitted to the neurology service during a six-month period. Patients with six or more admissions as well as age- and gender-matched controls were assessed for unmet palliative care needs. In hospitalized pediatric neurology patients, having six or more admissions in the preceding year did not predict unmet palliative care needs. While this pilot study did not find a quantitative measure that identifies patients needing a palliative care consultation, the negative finding highlights an important distinction between unmet social needs that interfere with care and unmet palliative care needs. Further, the method of screening patients used in this study was simple to implement and provides a framework for future studies.
PURPOSE: To analyse the preference of end of life care place in paediatric oncology patients, and to understand the end of life care needs and regrets among the care givers.
METHOD: This was an observational qualitative study. Parents of in-curable paediatric malignancy patients who died during the years 2016-2018 were interviewed using a pre-formed open-ended questionnaire. Fears during the last phase of child's life, most disturbing symptoms, choice of end of life care plan, regret of care givers and reasons for such choices were noted and analysed.
RESULT: Twenty six families were interviewed. A median of 3 months of discordance was noted between declaration of in-curability and acceptance of the same by the family. During terminal months, pain (84.62%) was described as the most bothersome symptom followed by respiratory distress (73.08%). Eighteen families (69%) opted for home-based terminal care, 8 (31%) for hospital-based terminal care. Regret of choice was noted in 62.5% families of the hospital-based care group (separation from home environment being the main reason) and 38.89% of the home-based care group (lack of access to health care personnel and pain medication being the main reasons).
CONCLUSION: Home-based care is the preferred option for end of life care by the care givers. Lack of community-based terminal care support system and availability of analgesics are the main areas to work on in India.
Although outcomes for children with heart disease have improved substantially over the past several decades, heart disease remains one of the leading causes of paediatric mortality. For children who progress to advanced heart disease, disease morbidity is high, with many children requiring multiple surgical interventions and long-term intensive care hospitalisations. Care for children with advanced heart disease requires a multidisciplinary approach, and opportunities for earlier integration of palliative care are being explored. This Viewpoint summarises the relevant literature over the past decade. We also identify gaps in parent and provider understanding of prognosis and communication, propose indications for palliative care consultation in paediatric advanced heart disease, and summarise attitudes and perceived barriers to palliative care consultation. Areas for additional research that we identify include paediatric cardiologist education, parental distress, socioeconomic disparities, and patient-reported outcomes. Interdisciplinary clinical and research efforts are required to further advance the field and improve integration of palliative care in the care of children with heart disease.
OBJECTIVE: To describe children's anxiety, depression, behaviors, and school performance at 2-13 months after sibling neonatal/pediatric intensive care unit (NICU/PICU) or emergency department (ED) death and compare these outcomes by child age, sex, race/ethnicity, whether the child saw their sibling in the NICU/PICU/ED, and attended the sibling's funeral.
STUDY DESIGN: Children in 71 families were recruited for this longitudinal study from 4 children's hospitals and 14 other Florida hospitals. Children rated anxiety (Spence Children's Anxiety Scale) and depression (Children's Depression Inventory); parents rated child behaviors (Child Behavior Checklist) and reported school performance (detentions, suspensions, requested parent-teacher meetings) at 2, 4, 6, and 13 months post-sibling death. Analyses included repeated measures-ANOVA, t-tests, and 1-way ANOVA.
RESULTS: In total, 132 children and 96 parents participated. More children were female (58%), black (50%), and school-age (72%). Of the children, 43% had elevated anxiety and 6% had elevated depression over 13 months post-sibling death. Child-rated anxiety was higher for girls and black vs white children. Child-rated anxiety and depression were lower if they saw their sibling in the NICU/PICU/ED before and/or after the death, and/or attended the funeral. Teens were more withdrawn than school-age children at all time points. Children who did not see their deceased sibling in the NICU/PICU/ED after death had more requests for parent-teacher conferences.
CONCLUSIONS: Children's anxiety was more common than depression, especially in girls and black children. Children who saw their siblings in the NICU/PICU/ED before/after death and/or attended funeral services had lower anxiety and depression over the first 13 months after sibling death.
OBJECTIVES: To provide an in-depth insight into the experience and perceptions of bereaved parents who have experienced end of life care decision-making for children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
DESIGN: An in-depth qualitative interview study with a sample of parents of children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions who had died in PICU within the previous 12 months. A thematic analysis was conducted on the interview transcripts.
SETTING: A PICU in a large National Health Service (NHS) tertiary children's hospital in the West Midlands, UK.
PARTICIPANTS: 17 parents of 11 children who had died in the PICU.
RESULTS: Five interconnected themes were identified related to end of life care decision-making:(1) parents have significant knowledge and experiences that influence the decision-making process.(2) Trusted relationships with healthcare professionals are key to supporting parents making end of life decisions.(3) Verbal and non-verbal communication with healthcare professionals impacts on the family experience.(4) Engaging with end of life care decision-making can be emotionally overwhelming, but becomes possible if parents reach a 'place of acceptance'.(5) Families perceive benefits to receiving end of life care for their child in a PICU.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The death of a child is an intensely emotional experience for all involved. This study adds to the limited evidence base related to parental experiences of end of life care decision-making and provides findings that have international relevance, particularly related to place of care and introduction of end of life care discussions. The expertise and previous experience of parents is highly relevant and should be acknowledged. End of life care decision-making is a complex and nuanced process; the information needs and preferences of each family are individual and need to be understood by the professionals involved in their care.
Objectif: Plusieurs sociocultures camerounaises se trouvent dans un entre-deux culturel sur la question d’une vie après la mort. Mort immatérielle ou non, après la mort physique la séparation qui s’en suit est toujours douloureuse. L’objectif de cet article était dans un premier temps de renseigner sur l’ordre conçu et l’ordre vécu de la mort de l’enfant de suite d’un cancer en négroculture, pour en expliquer les comportements pré- et post-mortem dans un deuxième.
Matériel et méthodes: Au cours d’une enquête anthropologique de 20 mois, les données issues d’une recherche documentaire, d’entretiens semi-structurés avec les soignants et de 18 entretiens biographiques avec les familles d’enfants préalablement en rémission, puis admis en soins palliatifs ou ayant des pronostics désespérés, et d’observations directes d’expériences de mort imminente et du deuil ont été collectées. Ces données ont ensuite été analysées via le schème actantiel et interprétées sous le prisme conceptuel de l’euphémisation de Pierre Bourdieu.
Résultats: Bien que l’hôpital n’ait pas pour vocation explicite la prise en charge de la mort, les familles se rassurent que leurs enfants décèdent à l’hôpital pour se soulager de toute formes de culpabilité ou se disculper d’accusations. La mort impose une domination larvée autant sur les soignants que sur les soignés et leurs familles car selon l’ordre conçu de bien de sociocultures au Cameroun, la mort n’est pas qu’un épisode de vie, mais une forme d’esprit malfaisant qui s’attache à ceux qui l’évoquant, l’invoquent s’ils ne sont pas culturellement ou rituellement aptes à y faire face. D’où une forclusion collective qui, de façon manifeste a des allures de fuite en avant, alors qu’au fond la retenue langagière et proxémique n’est rien d’autre que la forme culturelle prégnante de l’expression de la prémonition de la mort.
Conclusion: Cet article interpelle sur la nécessité de faire muter les soins des enfants en rémission de leur maladie d’une culture palliative d’urgence s’apparentant aux soins de fin de vie, vers une culture de soins systématiques qu’ils soient curatifs ou palliatifs.
Study objective: Children with medical complexity represent a fragile population and account for the majority of patients followed in pediatric palliative care. Little is known in regard to the role of the emergency department (ED) in caring for the families of children with medical complexity.
Methods: Semistructured focus groups were held with health care professionals from pediatric emergency medicine, palliative care, complex care, and intensive care to explore their perspective on pediatric palliative care in the ED. Data were transcribed and analyzed with NVivo software, and thematic analysis and theoretic sampling were performed.
Results: From January to October 2016, 58 participants were interviewed. Difficulties providing pediatric palliative care in the ED are related on the one hand to characteristics specific to the ED, such as its culture and its health care professionals’ strong emotional responses when caring for children with medical complexity, and on the other hand to factors extrinsic to the ED; mainly, lack of continuity of care. For critically ill children with unknown goals of care and potential for end of life, professionals in the ED should evaluate the clinical situation, contact known health care teams, remain open to families’ preferences, alleviate distressing symptoms, and create a caring environment. Communication between teams is targeted by health care professionals to facilitate and improve patient flow and care.
Conclusion: Although perspectives differ in regard to how to provide care for pediatric palliative care patients in the ED, several barriers to providing high-quality emergency pediatric palliative care can be overcome.
OBJECTIVE: A proportion of children die, making them potentially eligible to be organ/tissue donors. Not all are approached for donation, and experiences of those parents are not well understood. The objective was to investigate to what extent organ and tissue donation (OTD) is discussed as part of end-of-life care and to explore parents' and healthcare professionals' (HCPs) experiences.
DESIGN: A retrospective qualitative study.
SETTING: Multicentre study with participants recruited through two neonatal intensive care units (ICUs), two paediatric ICUs, a cardiac ICU and a children's hospice.
PATIENTS: Bereaved parents, parents of a child with a long-term condition (LTC) and HCPs.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Parents' and HCPs' views and experiences of discussions about OTD.
RESULTS: 24 parents of 20 children were interviewed: 21 bereaved parents and 3 parents of a child with a LTC. Seven parents were asked about donation (13 not asked), four agreed and two donated. 41 HCPs were interviewed. Themes: complexity of donation process, OTD as a coping strategy, the importance of asking, difficulty of raising the topic,\ and parents' assumptions about health of organs (when donation is not discussed).
CONCLUSIONS: The findings add new knowledge about parents' assumptions about the value of their child's organs when discussions about OTD are not raised, and that HCPs do not routinely ask, are sometimes hesitant to ask in fear of damaging relationships, and the reality of the complexity of the donation process. Given the current levels of awareness around OTD, the topic should be raised.
Parenting and providing extensive care to a child with a life-limiting or life-threatening disease while being aware of the future loss of the child are among the most stressful parental experiences. Due to technical and medical improvements, children are living longer and are increasingly cared for at home. To align healthcare professionals’ support with the needs of parents, a clear understanding of prominent experiences and main coping strategies of parents caring for a child in need of palliative care is needed. An interpretative qualitative study using thematic analysis was performed. Single or repeated interviews were undertaken with 42 parents of 24 children with malignant or non-malignant diseases receiving palliative care. Prominent reported parental experiences were daily anxiety of child loss, confrontation with loss and related grief, ambiguity towards uncertainty, preservation of a meaningful relationship with their child, tension regarding end-of-life decisions and engagement with professionals. Four closely related coping strategies were identified: suppressing emotions by keeping the loss of their child at bay, seeking support, taking control to arrange optimal childcare and adapting to and accepting the ongoing change(s).
Conclusion: Parents need healthcare professionals who understand and carefully handle their worries, losses, parent-child relationship and coping strategies.
Children with medical complexity (CMC) are a medically fragile pediatric population that experience severe chronic illnesses resulting in significant health care needs, functional limitations, and health care utilization, and are at the highest risk for morbidity and mortality among all children. Furthermore, families and parents of CMC experience significant caregiver hardships and diminished quality of life. The field of pediatric palliative care has grown in recent years, in part to address the physical and psychosocial issues inherent to the care of these chronically ill children. However, as the prevalence and long-term survival of CMC increases with medical advancements, the demand for pediatric palliative care will likely exceed the capacity of current and future pediatric palliative care specialists. Therefore, alternative strategies to ensure access to essential aspects of palliative care must be considered. This article focuses on why and how high-quality palliative care should be integrated into the patient- and family-centered medical home, the ideal care delivery model for CMC and their families. We first discuss how palliative care principles naturally align with and complement the goals of the CMC medical home. Next, we detail what actions pediatric palliative care specialists can take to best support the CMC medical home as "medical neighbors." Lastly, we describe the fundamental aspects of pediatric palliative care that all clinicians caring for CMC should be able to provide, referred to as "primary pediatric palliative care."
The majority of pediatric deaths occur in intensive care units, and among children who survive their pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) stay, many are left with significant morbidities, profound disability, and/or technology dependence. Additionally, more than 50% of children admitted to the PICU have baseline chronic medical conditions, and these patients are at increased risk of mortality, prolonged ICU length of stay, and aggressive interventions that clinicians may assumed to be desired by families because they utilized them in the past. Oftentimes, these outcomes are the consequence of a cascade of interventions that, over time, have diminishing potential to improve patient survival.
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There are more adults than children living with congenital heart disease (CHD) due to improvements in surgical and medical CHD management today. In 2011, though, fewer than 30% of adult CHD patients were following up with specialized providers. An ineffective transition from pediatric to adult-focused medical care can result in lapses in CHD medical care, patient noncompliance, and increased risk of late complications. Early involvement of a palliative care team offers development of autonomy, identification of potential barriers to care, and support for patient and family that may improve transition success and quality of life in CHD patients.
Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy and safety profile of orally administered low-dose ketamine for procedural pain management in pediatric cancer patients undergoing lumbar puncture (LP) in a resource-limited hospital setting.
Methods: Patients between 4 and 15 years of age, with leukemia, undergoing LP were asked to participate. The study was designed as a two-armed blinded placebo-controlled trial where 0.8 mg/kg (bodyweight) of ketamine mixed in juice was given 30 minutes before the procedure to Group K (ketamine) compared with placebo, only juice, to Group P (placebo). In addition, topical analgesia (EMLA®) was given according to established standard of care. Patients and caregivers assessed the pain using the Wong–Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale.
Results: A total number of 52 patients, equally distributed between Group K and Group P, were included in the study. The placebo-controlled group had significantly higher self-reported pain score than the group receiving ketamine (p = 0.046), as well as in caregiver-assessed pain (p = 0.033). Only three incidents of mild adverse effects were reported.
Conclusion: Low-dose oral ketamine can be safely administered for procedural analgesia in pediatric cancer patients undergoing LP in a resource-limited hospital setting and have significant pain-reducing effect compared with placebo.
A 14-year-old girl with a history of complex congenital heart disease in end-stage heart failure and with cyclic vomiting was admitted to our hospice program in 2012. Before hospice enrollment, she had required intermittent infusions of dexmedetomidine to abort cyclic vomiting episodes after cardiac catheterization procedures. Following a hospital admission in November 2013, she was discharged home in the care of our hospice on a continuous dexmedetomidine infusion. She remained on this infusion at varying doses (range of 0.1-0.38 mcg/kg/hour) for nearly three years, until her death in September 2016. This report describes the palliative use of dexmedetomidine in this patient and difficulties related to the use of this medication during the course of her care.
The prevalence of children on long-term ventilation (LTV) at home has increased in many countries. In Italy, there are 4.3/100,000 population younger than 18 years. Pediatric palliative care (PPC) network provides high-level care for these patients. In December 2003, in the northeast region of Italy, the regional authority promoted and developed a regional network for PPC, a regional network dedicated to the management of pediatric patients with life-limiting and life-threatening diseases. Characterization of LTV children population and description of care offered to them by a regional PPC network, based on the experience of the Veneto region were collected in a regional database. The regional database and evaluation of families' satisfaction, by means of a questionnaire, were longitudinally analyzed. We studied 56 children on LTV. The main involved diseases were neuromuscular diseases and myopathy. All patients had major comorbidities. Mean age was 4.5 years. The median age of starting ventilation was 3.9 years. The initial type of ventilation was invasive mechanical ventilation in 31 patients and noninvasive ventilation in 25 of them. The overall average frequency of hospitalizations for acute episodes was 0.7 admissions per year and the median duration of staying was 6 days. The median duration of staying in the intensive care unit (ICU) was significantly reduced after the opening of a residential solution (the pediatric hospice) (5 vs. 39 days). PPC network can offer global care to children on LTV. The availability of a residential structure into the PPC network seems to reduce the number and duration of hospital stays, especially in ICU, of this population, with likely cost savings. Further studies are necessary to confirm this hypothesis.