Perinatal Palliative Care: Beginning the Journey

Saturday, 16 November 2013: 3:35 PM

Lindsey Canon, MSN
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Texas Health Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX

Session Title: Perinatal Palliative Care: Beginning the Journey  

Brief Description: This session will discuss successful development and implementation of a perinatal palliative care (PC) program at a large metropolitan hospital.  Perinatal PC focuses to provide comprehensive supportive care for infants and their families with complex, life-altering, or life-limiting conditions.

Full description: As a tertiary referral center for women and infant’s health in a large metropolitan area, our institution often receives infants with complex medical diagnoses. As such, we discovered a recurring theme between numerous families, which were the inability to articulate prognosis, comprehend all available treatment options, and frustration expressed with fragmented care received across healthcare settings. Together, these needs spawned the development of our neonatal PC program. Our goals are comprehensive and focus to enhance communication, provide family support and education for healthy coping, assist with ethical dilemmas, and establish realistic goals of care. Initially, data included identifying diagnoses appropriate for PC. Altogether, the financial ramifications of extended LOS and the growing number of avoidable NICU admissions sparked interest amongst our executive team. Program maturation moved data collection beyond trigger recognition to analyzing cost avoidance and reducing LOS. The novelty of neonatal PC has inherent obstacles, not unique to our program, and involves: differentiating PC from hospice, educating staff, and care fragmentation. Retrospective analysis clearly identifies earlier program implementation as our lesson learned. Future endeavors include dedicated child life specialist(s), extending our partnership amongst various healthcare settings to promote seamless transitions, and formalizing our relationships with local charities.