A quality improvement project to increase palliative care team involvement in pediatric oncology patients.

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DOI: 10.1002/pbc.28804


BACKGROUND: Pediatric palliative care (PPC) for oncology patients improves quality of life and the likelihood of goal-concordant care. However, barriers to involvement exist.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to increase days between PPC consult and death for patients with refractory cancer from a baseline median of 13.5 days to ≥30 days between March 2019 and March 2020.

METHODS: Outcome measure was days from PPC consult to death; process measure was days from diagnosis to PPC consult. The project team surveyed oncologists to identify barriers. Plan-do-study-act cycles included establishing target diagnoses, offering education, standardizing documentation, and sending reminders.

RESULTS: The 24-month baseline period included 30 patients who died and 25 newly diagnosed patients. The yearlong intervention period included six patients who died and 16 newly diagnosed patients. Interventions improved outcome and process measures. Targeted patients receiving PPC ≥30 days prior to death increased from 43% to 100%; median days from consult to death increased from 13.5 to 159.5. Targeted patients receiving PPC within 30 days of diagnosis increased from 28% to 63%; median days from diagnosis to consult decreased from 221.5 to 14. Of those without PPC consult ≤ 30 days after diagnosis, 17% had template documentation of the rationale.

CONCLUSION: Interventions utilized met the global aim, outcome, and process measures. Use of QI methodology empowered providers to involve PPC. Poor template use was a barrier to identifying further drivers. Future directions for this project relate to expanding the target list, creating long-term sustainability, formalizing standards, and surveying patients and families.

Journal Title

Pediatric blood & cancer





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oncology; palliative care; pediatric palliative care; refractory cancer

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