Pediatric palliative care in the intensive care unit and questions of quality: a review of the determinants and mechanisms of high-quality palliative care in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU)

Sara Rhodes Short, Rachel Thienprayoon


This article reviews the state and practice of pediatric palliative care (PC) within the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) with specific consideration of quality issues. This includes defining PC and end of life (EOL) care. We will also describe PC as it pertains to alleviating children’s suffering through the provision of “concurrent care” in the ICU environment. Modes of care, and attendant strengths, of both the consultant and integrated models will be presented. We will review salient issues related to the provision of PC in the PICU, barriers to optimal practice, parental, and staff perceptions. Opportunity areas for quality improvement and the role of initiatives and measures such as education, family-based initiatives, staff needs, symptom recognition, grief, and communication follow. To conclude, we will look to the literature for PC resources for pediatric intensivists and future directions of study.