As physicians, one of the hardest tasks for which any of us is called on is helping a pediatric patient and his or her family with the passage from life to death. In 2005 in the United States, 53 501 infants, children, and adolescents died. Some occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, after trauma or owing to sudden infant death syndrome, for example. Others occurred because of premature birth or a fulminant infection. Still others are the result of a chronic disease for which a cure is not available, such as refractory cancer or neurodegenerative conditions, and where death often occurs after a prolonged course of illness during which care shifts from aggressive life-prolonging treatment to devoted palliative care aiming to enhance quality of life and minimize suffering.
Rivara FP, Feudtner C. Call for Papers: Palliative Care, Dying, and Bereavement. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(8):789. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.8.789
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