Providing Compassionate End of Life Care in the Setting of Mechanical Circulatory Support
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Purpose of Review
To outline key elements in providing compassionate end-of-life care for pediatric patients with end-stage heart failure on mechanical circulatory support (MCS) such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and ventricular assist devices (VADs).
Approximately one in five pediatric patients with end-stage heart failure die on VAD support, with higher mortality associated with patients supported on ECMO. While it is considered ethically and legally permissible to withdraw MCS, pediatric-specific guidelines regarding indications and end-of-life management on MCS are lacking.
A multidisciplinary approach with early consultation of the palliative care team is essential for all patients being considered for MCS. Guiding families through end-of-life care on MCS requires frequent and honest communication by engaging in shared decision-making regarding prognosis and potential clinical pathways, advanced care and preparedness planning, and identifying and meeting patients’/families’ goals of care.
KeywordsPalliative care Pediatric cardiology Ventricular assist device Extracorporeal mechanical support
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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