Polypharmacy among Pediatric Cancer Patients Dying In the Hospital


Polypharmacy among Pediatric Cancer Patients Dying In the Hospital


Tamir S; Kurnik D; Weyl BAM; Postovsky S



The Israel Medical Association Journal




Child; Female; Humans; Male; Resuscitation Orders; Demography; Health Services Research; Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data; Neoplasm Staging; Antineoplastic Agents/therapeutic use; Neoplasms/drug therapy/mortality/pathology; Palliative Care/methods/statistics & numerical data; Polypharmacy; Terminal Care/methods/statistics & numerical data; Critical Pathways/statistics & numerical data; Israel/epidemiology; Steroids/therapeutic use


BACKGROUND: Decisions on medication treatment in children dying from cancer are often complex and may result in polypharmacy and increased medication burden. There is no information on medication burden in pediatric cancer patients at the end of life (EOL). OBJECTIVES: To characterize medication burden during the last hospitalization in children dying from cancer. METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study based on medical records of 90 children who died from cancer in hospital between 01 January 2010 and 30 December 2018. Demographic and clinical information were collected for the last hospitalization. We compared medication burden (number of medication orders) at hospitalization and at time of death and examined whether changes in medication burden were associated with clinical and demographic parameters. RESULTS: Median medication burden was higher in leukemia/lymphoma patients (6 orders) compared to solid (4 orders) or CNS tumor patients (4 orders, P = 0.006). Overall, the median number of prescriptions per patient did not change until death (P = 0.42), while there was a significant reduction for some medication subgroups (chemotherapy [P = 0.035], steroids [P = 0.010]).Patients dying in the ICU (n=15) had a higher medication burden at death (6 orders) than patients dying on wards (3 orders, P = 0.001). There was a trend for a reduction in medication burden in patients with "Do not resuscitate" (DNR) orders (P = 0.055). CONCLUSIONS: Polypharmacy is ubiquitous among pediatric oncology patients at EOL. Disease type and DNR status may affect medication burden and deprescribing during the last hospitalization.


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Citation List Month

2021 Special Edition - Oncology

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Tamir S; Kurnik D; Weyl BAM; Postovsky S, “Polypharmacy among Pediatric Cancer Patients Dying In the Hospital,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed March 29, 2023, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/18948.

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