Palliative care for pediatric intensive care patients and families

Charles B. Rothschild, Sabrina F. Derrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Children with medical or surgical critical illness or injury require skillful attention to physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs, whereas their families need support and guidance in facing life-threatening or life-changing events and gut-wrenching decisions. This article reviews current evidence and best practices for integrating palliative care into the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), with a focus on surgical patients. RECENT FINDINGS: Palliative care is best integrated in a tiered approach, with primary palliative care provided by the PICU and surgical providers for all patients and families, including basic symptom management, high-quality communication, and end-of-life care. Secondary and tertiary levels of care involve unit or team-based 'champions' with additional expertise, and subspecialty palliative care teams, respectively. PICU and surgical providers should be able to provide primary palliative care, to identify patients and families for whom a palliative care consult would be helpful, and should be comfortable introducing the concept of palliative care to families. SUMMARY: This review provides a framework and tools to enable PICU and surgical providers to integrate palliative care best practices into patient and family care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)428-435
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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