Pediatric Palliative Care: Where Are We Now?

Tina M. Schwartz; Stephanie Chalupka


Pediatr Nurs. 2019;45(5):224-230. 

In This Article

Medical Ethics

When providing palliative care to children and families, one may find oneself in an ethical dilemma due to a variety of social and cultural factors when caring for children. Clinicians often struggle with providing the ideal care to a dying adult. When a is child dying, the struggle may become exceptionally stressful. When are children capable of making decisions for themselves that are not aligned with the decisions of their parents? Is it acceptable to withhold the truth regarding a patient's prognosis if the parents wish to spare their child devastating news? Is the patient experiencing pain or are symptoms not being managed appropriately? Are members of the clinical staff uncomfortable with the care being provided (Feudtner & Nathanson, 2014)?

The therapeutic relationship between the family and health care team can be strained when there is disagreement about the plan of care. Situations such as these can cause moral distress among clinical staff and require a medical ethics consult. An ethics consult would result in an assessment of the current situation. The consultation would allow the family and clinical staff to voice their feelings and hopefully bring about a mutual understanding to all parties for a cohesive plan of care (Feudtner & Nathanson, 2014).