September 26, 2003

Conference to address end-of-life issues for children

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Conference to address end-of-life issues for children

The new Pediatric Advanced Comfort Care Team (PACCT) at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital is taking on an issue few people want to talk about: the fact that children sometimes die. But the PACCT is working with Alive Hospice to bring this issue before as many people as possible in a Pediatric Palliative Care Conference next week.

End-of-life issues for adults have only become topics that are openly discussed within the past five to 10 years. Now, members of the PACCT say there is a need to address the issue for children.

“Sometimes people who work in critical care are so focused on trying to save a child that they don’t think enough about issues like comfort and dignity,” said Dr. Brian Carter, associate professor of Pediatrics and member of the PACCT.

“The fact is sometimes children die too, and they deserve the same level of comfort and dignity at the end of life that we offer to adults.”

The conference will address issues like how to best use medications for children living with life-threatening conditions, and how to deal with the possibility of death when talking with family members.

The PACCT is a group of experts including physicians, nurses, clergy, Child Life and other professionals who become involved with a family at Children’s Hospital who may lose a child to a life-threatening injury or illness.

The team, along with members of Alive Hospice, is gearing up to offer comprehensive services at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt once it opens at the end of the year.

The Palliative Care Conference is Friday, Oct. 3. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the conference adjourns at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the Willis Conference Center at One Century Place.

The fee for the conference varies for professionals seeking continuing education credits. A $60 fee for the public covers the cost of food and materials. For more information and to register, call 322-4526.