Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care Transport and Palliative Care: A Case Series

Garcia X, Frazier E, Kane J, Jones A, Brown C, Bryant T, Prodhan P.Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2020 May 28:1049909120928280. doi: 10.1177/1049909120928280. Online ahead of print.PMID: 32462881



Objective: To present our center’s experience with terminal extubation in 3 palliative critical care home transports from the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Unit.

Design: All cases were identified from our Cardiovascular intensive care unit ( CVICU). Patients were terminally ill children with no other surgical or medical option who were transported home between 2014 and 2018, for terminal extubation and end-of-life care according to their families’ wishes.

Interventions: The patients were 7, 9 months, and 19 years; and they had very complex and chronic conditions. The families were approached by the CVICU staff during multidisciplinary meetings, where goals of care were established. Parental expectations were clarified, and palliative care team was involved, as well as home hospice was arranged pre transfer. The transfer process was discussed and all the needs were established. All patients had unstable medical conditions, with needs for transport for withdrawal of life support and death at home. Each case needed a highly trained team to support life while in transport. The need of these patients required coordination with home palliative care services, as well as community resources due to difficulty to get in their homes.

Conclusions: Transportation of pediatric cardiac critical care patients for terminal extubation at home is a relatively infrequent practice. It is a feasible alternative for families seeking out of the hospital end-of-life care for their critically ill and technology dependent children. Our single-center experience supports the need for development of formal programs for end-of-life critical care transports.