In 2017, the Nebraska Unicameral passed legislative bill 506, which required physicians to inform patients carrying fetuses diagnosed with a life-limiting anomaly of the option to enroll in a comprehensive perinatal hospice program. The bill also required the Department of Health & Human Services to provide information about statewide hospice programs. Families enrolled in hospice programs are better prepared for the birth and death of their child. This large academic medical center was listed on the registry but did not have a formal perinatal hospice program.
Implementation of a comprehensive perinatal hospice program.
The program was designed and implemented, beginning with the formation of an interdisciplinary team. Guidelines were developed for program referral, care conferences, team communication, and family follow-up. The team was educated. Electronic record documentation and order set were implemented. A data collection process was developed to track referrals and critical data points.
The perinatal hospice program has been accepting referrals but has not had any qualifying referrals.
Implications for Practice:
The development of an evidence-based guideline for referral that can improve referral consistency. While trisomy 13 and 18 diagnosis was historically considered life-limiting, these families now have the option of full intervention and transfer for specialists.
Implications for Research:
Future research will include collecting data from patients who could have benefited from hospice, including infants who were born 20 to 22 weeks, or for maternal reasons. Future research will evaluate the experience after bereavement, the hospice team's experience, and the effectiveness of the referral process.