Pediatric Palliative Care Programs in US Hospitals


Pediatric Palliative Care Programs in US Hospitals


Rogers MM; Friebert S; Williams C; Humphrey L; Thienprayoon R; Klick JC






children; life-limiting illness; palliative care programs; Pediatric palliative care; USA


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Pediatric palliative care (PPC) is integral to the care of children living with serious illnesses. Despite the growth in the number of established palliative care programs over the past decade, little is known about the current operational features of PPC programs across the country. METHODS: The National Palliative Care Registry collects annualized data on palliative care programs' structures, processes, and staffing. Using data from the 2018 registry survey, we report on the operational features of inpatient PPC programs across the United States. RESULTS: Fifty-four inpatient PPC programs submitted data about their operations. Programs reported a median of 3.8 full-time equivalent staff per 10 000 hospital admissions (range 0.7-12.1) across the core interdisciplinary team, yet few (37%) met the minimum standards of practice for staffing. Programs provided more annual consults if they were longer-standing, had more interdisciplinary full-time equivalent staff, offered 24/7 availability for patients and families, or were at larger hospitals. The majority of programs reported concern for burnout (63%) and an inability to meet clinical demand with available staffing (60%). CONCLUSIONS: There is considerable variability in PPC program operations and structure in hospitals. This study affirms the need for updated program standards and guidelines, as well as research that describes how different care delivery models impact outcomes for patients, families, staff, and health care systems. Future studies that further define the clinical demand, workload, and sustainability challenges of PPC programs are necessary to foster the provision of high-quality PPC and maintain a vital clinical workforce.


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August 2021 List



Rogers MM; Friebert S; Williams C; Humphrey L; Thienprayoon R; Klick JC, “Pediatric Palliative Care Programs in US Hospitals,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed April 16, 2024,