Current research demonstrates that pediatric symptom management care is often initiated in the late stages of disease once clinicians are no longer able to meaningfully impact symptom burden. Given that physicians or nurse practitioners are responsible for initiating palliative care referrals, it is incumbent upon registered nurses to advocate when improved symptom management care is needed. The pediatric palliative care screening instrument pilot provides a centralized instrument to document and quantify a patient's symptom profile, giving registered nurses the opportunity to objectively communicate and track a patient's need for improved symptom management care within the areas of pain, secretions, dyspnea, intractable seizures, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, anorexia, cachexia, sleep disturbance, lethargy, anxiety, depression, and/or agitation. The 4-week quality improvement project at an academic teaching hospital formally incorporated the bedside registered nurses' symptom assessment into a centralized document. Fifty-three patients were identified as having an uncontrolled symptom burden in at least one of the symptom domains, indicating that excessive and untreated symptom burden was present on the acute care floor. The pediatric palliative care screening instrument could act as a conduit between bedside registered nurses and the palliative care team, serving to reduce the time between onset of excessive symptom burden and initiation of symptom management services.
Rachel Shaw, MSN, CNL, RN, is CNL student, School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Hallie Seegal, MSN, CNL, RN, is CNL student, School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Joy G. Miller, MSN, PNP, RN, is pediatric nurse practitioner, Children’s Hospital, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN, is assistant professor, School of Nursing, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
Address correspondence to Jessica Keim-Malpass, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of Virginia, P.O. Box 800782 Charlottesville, VA 22908 (Jlk2t@virginia.edu).
R.S. and H.S. contributed equally to the article.
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.