Withdrawal of Treatment in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at a Children's Hospital in China: A 10-year Retrospective Study
Background: Published data and practice recommendations on end-of-life care generally reflect Western practice frameworks; there are limited data on withdrawal of treatment for children in China. Methods: Withdrawal of treatment for children in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) of a regional children's hospital in eastern China from 2006 to 2017 was studied retrospectively. Withdrawal of treatment was categorized as medical withdrawal or premature withdrawal. The guardian's self-reported
... ian's self-reported reasons for abandoning the child's treatment were recorded from 2011. Results: The incidence of withdrawal of treatment for children in the PICU decreased significantly; for premature withdrawal the 3-year average of 15.1% in 2006–2008 decreased to 1.9% in 2015–2017 (87.4% reduction). The overall incidence of withdrawal of care reduced over the time period, and withdrawal of therapy by guardians was the main contributor to the overall reduction. The median age of children for whom treatment was withdrawn increased from 14.5 months (interquartile range: 4.0–72.0) in 2006 to 40.5 months (interquartile range: 8.0–99.0) in 2017. Among the reasons given by guardians of children whose treatment was withdrawn in 2011–2017, "illness is too severe" ranked first, accounting for 66.3%, followed by "condition has been improved" (20.9%). Only a few guardians ascribed treatment withdrawal to economic reasons. Conclusions: The frequency of withdrawal of medical therapy has changed over time in this children's hospital PICU, and parental decision-making has been a large part of the change.