Wednesday, July 30, 2008

100 deaths

I don't write about my work that much here. I enjoy my work, but it doesn't make for uplifting reading. Remember, I'm working on a project to improve end-of-life care for kids who die in the pediatric ICU.

So we've just started the second phase of our study, which is pilot testing a new instrument (a survey) that we created in the first phase. In order to pilot test it, we are giving it to clinicians (doctors, nurses, social workers, and others who work in the PICU) after there is a death. The purpose of the survey is to rate the care that was given to the child and his/her family, and to see if the care met the family's needs, and what can be improved. The only trouble is, in order to do this, there have to be deaths. 100 of them. Deaths of children.

We aren't causing the deaths; we are just noting them. It's called an observational study. When a death happens, we (or actually, our surrogates in the PICU) give out the surveys to the most involved clinicians. Eventually, we will get the surveys back, and input them into our nifty little data base. Eventually we will analyze the data, and write papers, and find things out. But in order to get this data, there have to be deaths.

The second phase of the study officially began about 2 weeks ago, and we had't heard anything yet about any deaths in the 2 PICUs we are working with. But today I heard from one of them. There was a death. So our study begins...

I'm glad that our study is beginning, because I think it's interesting and important, but I'm sad about the death. And I don't know if I can deal with feeling this way 100 times...

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