Pediatric palliative care is an interdisciplinary approach to supporting children and families facing life-threatening or life-limiting illness, regardless of stage or prognosis. Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life and ensuring that clinical care aligns with the goals and values of the patients and their families. While our expertise includes providing comfort at end-of-life, most often we provide care concurrent with disease-directed therapy, collaborating with the patient’s primary medical team to ensure clear communication.
"Palliative care seeks to maximize the quality of life for patients and families facing life-threatening and/or complex medical situations."
— Joel E. Frader, MD
Division Chief, Palliative Care
What We Do
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The Division of Palliative Care offers a one-year, ACGME-accredited clinical fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine, co-sponsored by the Hospice and Palliative Care program at Magee Medical Center/Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Successful completion of the program qualifies fellows to take the hospice and palliative medicine certifying examination. In addition, the division offers clinical electives in palliative care for Lurie Children’s pediatric residents, fellows in other pediatric subspecialties and Feinberg medical students. Division members also provide didactic conferences for pediatrics residents and for Lurie Children’s staff members in a variety of clinical professions.
The division’s clinical team includes attending physicians, advanced practice nurses, a psychologist and a nurse coordinator. We provide palliative care consultation for children with life-threatening/life-limiting conditions. We primarily focus on pain and other symptom management, assistance to families in determining goals of care and making complex medical decisions for their children and providing psychosocial support to families in conjunction with social workers, chaplains, child life specialists, creative arts therapists, bereavement counselors and others. While most of our work is inpatient, we frequently see ambulatory patients at the time of their visits with their primary subspecialty team and can make arrangements for independent outpatient consultations.
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Our faculty participate in research related to the following topics:
- Family involvement in decision making, especially regarding end-of-life care in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
- Ethical issues arising from the care of children with a variety of medical conditions
- Parents’ use of social media to chronicle their experience with critically ill infants and children
- Mental health needs of children (and families) receiving palliative care services
- Non-pharmacologic approaches to pain treatment
- The use of smart phone and tablet apps for patients and parents to communicate patient care needs directly to the palliative care team
Learn about advocacy
Members of the division participate actively in local, state, regional and international efforts to improve patient and family access to expert pediatric palliative care, including with refugees, in the developing world and for underserved populations in the United States. In addition, faculty members are actively engaged and hold or have held leadership positions in several national organizations, including the American Association for Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Society for Critical Care Medicine.
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