The primary outcome was palliative care consultation, as identified by the palliative care International Classification of Disease code. Patient characteristics and outcomes were compared between those with and without palliative care. We used a mixed-effects multivariable model to estimate the independent association between palliative care and patient characteristics accounting for institution and subject clustering. Hospitalizations were categorized into three mutually exclusive groups for comparative analyses: 1) meeting ICU-specific palliative care criteria, 2) presence of a complex chronic condition not in ICU-specific palliative care criteria, or 3) not meeting ICU-specific palliative care or complex chronic condition criteria. Rates and trends of palliative care consultation were estimated including variation among institutions and variation among subcategories of ICU-specific palliative care criteria. The study cohort included 740,890 subjects with 1,024,666 hospitalizations. About 1.36% of hospitalizations had a palliative care consultation. Palliative care consultation for critically ill children in the United States is low. Palliative care utilization is increasing but considerable variation exists across institutions, suggesting inequity in palliative care allocation among this vulnerable population. Future studies should evaluate factors influencing the allocation of palliative care among critically ill children in the United States and the drivers of differences between the institutional practices.

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