Pediatric Palliative Care: Where Are We Now?
Tina M. Schwartz and Stephanie Chalupka
The death of a child is a life-changing and tragic experience for not only families, but also caregivers involved in the final moments of the child’s life. Although there have been numerous advances in medical technology, thousands of children continue to die annually. The first year of life has the most substantial number of death rates. Children and youth with special needs include those who have or are at increased risk for chronic physical, developmental, or emotional conditions. These children require health-related and other services beyond those generally required, and one such service might be pediatric palliative care (PPC). The purpose of PPC is to deliver competent, compassionate, and consistent care to the child facing a life-limiting illness. The current state of delivery of PPC is researched with documented outcomes. There is still much work to be done concerning standardization of PPC. This article reviews best practice surrounding PPC and barriers to implementation. The medical ethics of PPC, improving patient outcomes, and the defining traits of a successful PPC program are discussed.