Introduction: There is a gradual increasing trend in childhood cancers in India and pediatric palliative care in India is an emerging specialty. Prescribing pain and symptom control drugs in children with cancer requires knowledge of palliative care formulary, dosing schedules, and prescription guidelines. This study is a retrospective audit of prescribing practices of a specialist palliative care service situated in a tertiary cancer center. Methods: A total of 1135 medication records of children receiving specialist pediatric palliative care services were audited for 5 years (2010-2014) to evaluate prescribing practices in children with advanced cancer. Results: A total of 51 types of drugs were prescribed with an average of 4.2 drugs per prescription. 66.9% of the prescriptions had paracetamol, and 33.9% of the prescriptions had morphine. Most common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs prescribed was ibuprofen (23.9%), and more than 50% of the prescriptions had aperients. The most commonly prescribed aperient was a combination of liquid paraffin and sodium-picosulfate. Dexamethasone was prescribed in 51.9% of patients and in most cases this was part of oral chemotherapy regimen. Generic names in prescription were used only in 33% of cases, and adverse effects of the drugs were documented in only 9% of cases. In 25% of cases, noncompliance to the WHO prescription guidelines was seen, and patient compliance to prescription was seen in 40% of cases. Conclusions: Audit of the prescribing practices in specialist pediatric palliative care service shows that knowledge of pediatric palliative care formulary, rational drug use, dosing, and prescribing guidelines is essential for symptom control in children with advanced life-limiting illness. Noncompliance to WHO prescribing guidelines in one fourth of cases and using nongeneric names in two-thirds of prescription indicates poor prescribing practices and warrants prescriber education. Prescription noncompliance by almost two-thirds of patients is alarming and necessitates intense patient, family, and caregiver education and empowerment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health