Implementation of an Innovative Palliative Care Screening Tool in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit: A Pilot Study

Caitlyn H. Hodge, Elizabeth W.J. Kerris, Michelle C. Freeman, Susannah T. Eckman, Deana M. Deeter, Katelyn M. Even

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Background: Pediatric palliative care (PPC) can improve the quality of care provided to critically ill children with a high risk of morbidity and mortality. Early identification of patients admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) who may benefit from PPC involvement is essential. Objectives: To create a brief screening tool, the Pediatric Intensive Care-Pediatric Palliative Care Screen, identifying PICU patients most likely to benefit from PPC involvement and to assess if weekly screening with this screening tool increases the number of PPC consults placed in the PICU. Methods: This is a prospective investigational single-center study in a 24-bed PICU at a U.S. tertiary care children's hospital. Weekly screening was completed by two clinicians for a six-month period between April and October 2022. Results: A total of 162 screens were completed on 124 individual patients; 47 screens were positive (29%), and 115 were negative (71%). Fourteen new PPC consults were placed from the PICU with one PPC consult for every 36.7 compared with one PPC for every 41.4 admissions the previous year. Of the positive screens, 68% had two or more comorbidities at the time of PICU admission versus 26% of negative screens ( p < 0.001). Technology dependence (57% vs. 5%, p < 0.001) and presence of congenital defects (26% vs. 10%, p = 0.013) were significantly more common among positive screens. Conclusions: Weekly screening with a short, 7-question screening tool can identify PICU patients most likely to benefit from a PPC consult. Patients with chronic illnesses and baseline comorbidities are most likely to screen positive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-315
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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