Objective: To implement and evaluate a quality improvement program of interdisciplinary palliative care education and support intended to increase the competence, confidence and ability to manage personal grief of health care professionals caring for dying children.
Setting: A children's hospital in an urban academic medical center.
Participants: Pediatric health care professionals of all disciplines caring for children with life-threatening conditions.
Interventions: We initiated a quality improvement program of professional education and support consisting of four interdisciplinary activities facilitated by the pediatric palliative care team. The Compassionate Care Network (CCN) provides an open forum for interdisciplinary networking and education. Palliative Care Rounds (PCR) provides education through monthly case-based discussions on selected units. Patient Care Conferences (PCC) facilitate communication and care planning for selected patients with palliative care needs on any unit in the children's center. Bereavement Debriefing Sessions (BDS) offer health professionals the opportunity to manage their responses to grief after a patient's death. EVALUATION MEASURES: From February 2002 to September 2003, we prospectively tracked the frequency of sessions conducted, the number and discipline of attendees, the age and diagnosis of patients discussed, and themes raised at each session. Participants evaluated each session.
Results: One hundred one sessions were conducted (PCR = 31, PCC = 23, CCN = 9, BDS = 38) for 950 participants (PCR = 312, PCC = 188, CCN = 193, BDS = 257). All units and disciplines participated in one or more sessions. Evaluations report that sessions are informative and will influence future professional practice.
Conclusions: A program of interdisciplinary interventions can successfully educate and support health care professionals in providing palliative and end-of-life care for children. This program model can be applied in diverse pediatric health care settings.