Home-based palliative care for children--Part 1: The institution of a program.

M. Levy, C. M. Duffy, P. Pollock, E. Budd, L. Caulfield, G. Koren

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12 Scopus citations


To assess the necessity and feasibility of introducing a home-based palliative care program for children admitted to our neurosurgical unit and diagnosed as being terminally ill, we conducted an analysis of all such patients admitted to our unit over an 18-month period. Of a total of 30 patients, 22 (73.4%) had central nervous system tumors, 6 (20.0%) had myelomeningocele/hydrocephalus, and 2 (6.6%) had arteriovenous malformations. The mean duration +/- SEM of hospitalized days prior to death and the proportion of time spent hospitalized during the terminal phase of illness were 28.8 +/- 4.77 and 0.327 respectively, for the 23 patients who died and on whom adequate data were available. Sixteen (70.6%) of these 23 patients died in hospital. Nine (30.0%) of the total group of patients were studied prospectively during the last 6 months of this study to determine the extent of their symptoms and to ascertain whether it would be feasible for them to be managed at home. The most troublesome symptoms in this subgroup were feeding difficulties, gastrointestinal symptoms, breathing difficulty, and seizures. These symptoms were managed either by (a) medications administered orally or by feeding tube or rectally, or by (b) noninvasive procedures carried out by a nurse under the direction of the admitting neurosurgeon. This study suggests that prolonged hospitalization for children diagnosed as being terminally ill can be avoided by introducing a home-based palliative program with involvement from a nurse and a physician familiar with drug therapy for terminally ill children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-15
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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