Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 266--273

Specialist pediatric palliative care referral practices in pediatric oncology: A large 5-year retrospective audit

Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Naveen Salins
Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.185031

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Purpose: To audit referral practices of pediatric oncologists referred to specialist pediatric palliative care services. Patients and Methods: Retrospective review of medical case records of pediatric palliative care patients over a period of 5 years from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2014. Descriptive summaries of demographic, clinical variables, and patient circumstances at the time of referral and during end-of-life care were examined. Results: A total of 1135 patients were referred from pediatric oncology with a gradual increasing trend over 5 years. About 84.6% consultations took place in the outpatient setting. In 97.9% of the cases, parents were the primary caregivers. Availability of specialist pediatric health-care services at local places was available in 21.2% cases and 48% families earned <5000 INR (approximately 73 USD) in a month. Around 28.3% of the referrals were from leukemia clinic and maximum references were late with 72.4% patients having advanced disease at presentation. 30.3% of the referrals were made for counseling and communication and 54.2% had high symptom burden during referral. After referral, 21.2% patients continued with oral metronomic chemotherapy and 10.5% were referred back to oncology services for palliative radiotherapy. Only 4.9% patients had more than 2 follow-ups. 90.8% of the patients were cared for at home in the last days of illness by local general practitioners. 70.6% of the deaths were anticipated. Conclusions: Oncologists referred patients late in the course of disease trajectory. Most of the referrals were made for counseling and communication, but many patients had high symptom burden during referral.


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