Development and integration of a perinatal palliative care program at a tertiary care center


Development and integration of a perinatal palliative care program at a tertiary care center


Shah B A; May R; White L; Wlodaver A


Journal of Investigative Medicine




hospice; newborn; anencephalus; intensive care; clergy; nurse; social worker; comfort; practice guideline; neonatologist; tertiary care center; conference abstract; human; child; female; controlled study; perinatal care; palliative therapy; abortion; electronic medical record; fetus malformation; Oklahoma; prenatal diagnosis


Purpose of study Advances in fetal medicine have increased referrals to tertiary perinatal care centers. NRP guidelines recommend that only neonates with anencephaly and less than. 400 grams are not to be resuscitated. In 2015, Oklahoma passed a law stating 'it is the duty of the physician to inform the woman who carries a fetus with anomalies that perinatal hospice services are available and that this is an alternative to abortion'. We aim to describe the process of developing a perinatal palliative care (PPC) program for newborns with prenatal diagnoses of life-limiting conditions. Methods used Focus groups were conducted with responsible parties. Existing resources were identified. Implementation approaches were discussed. Summary of results The need for a PPC team was identified. Nurses, neonatologists, chaplains, social workers and child life specialists were integrated into this service with the support of an existing pediatric palliative care team. A new PPC program was introduced. Prenatal consults initiated by maternal-fetal medicine are an integral part of the prenatal care. Options of intensive care versus comfort care are offered. A neonatologist attends all these deliveries. The newborn stays with the mother. Special nurses were assigned for comfort care in the mother's room. Guidelines and specific PPC orders are now available in the electronic medical record. Examples are listed in the table 1. A website was created to inform referring physicians about this new program. Conclusions PPC was successfully established at a regional tertiary center. Parents of newborns diagnosed with lethal conditions have the choice of often non-beneficial intensive care or care focused on comfort after birth. This specialized care allows parents to celebrate the limited life of their precious newborns. Providers across the state have now access to a referral center offering perinatal neonatal palliative care. (Table Presented).

Citation List Month

June 2019 List



Shah B A; May R; White L; Wlodaver A, “Development and integration of a perinatal palliative care program at a tertiary care center,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed November 28, 2023,