+ Author Affiliations
aUniversity of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, Austin, Texas; and
bLucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, Palo Alto, California
Pediatric palliative care physicians have an ethical duty to care for the families of children with life-threatening conditions through their illness and bereavement. This duty is predicated on 2 important factors: (1) best interest of the child and (2) nonabandonment. Children exist in the context of a family and therefore excellent care for the child must include attention to the needs of the family, including siblings. The principle of nonabandonment is an important one in pediatric palliative care, as many families report being well cared for during their child’s treatment, but feel as if the physicians and team members suddenly disappear after the death of the child. Family-centered care requires frequent, kind, and accurate communication with parents that leads to shared decision-making during treatment, care of parents and siblings during end-of-life, and assistance to the family in bereavement after death. Despite the challenges to this comprehensive care, physicians can support and be supported by their transdisciplinary palliative care team members in providing compassionate, ethical, and holistic care to the entire family when a child is ill.