Palliative care in a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit: a 10-year review

Title

Palliative care in a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit: a 10-year review

Creator

Ng SKF; Keenan N; Swart S; Berry MJ

Publisher

BMJ Supportive & Palliative

Date

2018

Subject

palliation; neonatal; end-of-life; palliative; neonatology; integrative

Description

OBJECTIVES: When active treatment is no longer in the best interests of the patient, redirection of care to palliation is an important transition. We review, within a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the journey leading to the decision to redirect care, the means of symptom control and the provision of psychosocial supports. METHODS: A retrospective review of all 166 deaths of NICU-affiliated patients during a 10- year epoch. Medical notes were reviewed, and the provision and type of, or barriers to, effective palliative care was defined. RESULTS: Extreme prematurity accounted for 71/145 (49%) of deaths with relatively high proportions of Maori 17/71 (25%) and Pacific Islanders 9/71 (13%). Almost all eligible infants received some form of palliation. Transition from curative to palliative care was refused by the family in a single case. Median time from decision to redirect care until first recorded action was 80 min, and median time from action until death was 60 min. The majority of infants received some form of comfort cares, (128/166) most commonly morphine (94/128, 73%). Three infants had documented seizure activity or respiratory distress but did not receive any pharmacological intervention. Psychosocial supports were offered in 98/145 (67%) of cases, but only 71/145 (49%) of families were formally offered an opportunity to discuss the infant's clinical course after their death. CONCLUSIONS: Clinical documentation of care plans was often incomplete, potentially leading to inconsistent delivery of care, increased risk of symptom breakthrough and/or inadequate psychosocial supports for family. Formal individualised palliative care plans are under development to standardise documentation and improve therapeutic and psychosocial interventions available to the infant and their family.

Citation List Month

January 2019 List

Collection

Citation

Ng SKF; Keenan N; Swart S; Berry MJ, “Palliative care in a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit: a 10-year review,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed July 26, 2021, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/15908.

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