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Fifteen-minute consultation: Therapeutic hypothermia for infants with hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy—translating jargon, prognosis and uncertainty for parents
  1. Paul Cawley1,2,
  2. Ela Chakkarapani3
  1. 1 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, UK
  2. 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, St Michael’s Hospital, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
  3. 3 School of Clinical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ela Chakkarapani, University of Bristol, St Michael’s Hospital, Bristol BS2 8EG, UK; Ela.Chakkarapani{at}


Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy may lead to death or severe long-term morbidity. Therapeutic hypothermia (TH) increases survival without impairments in childhood, but prognostic uncertainty may remain for years after birth. Clear and accurate communication is imperative but challenging. This article explores the predictive value of routinely performed assessments during TH, as well as the qualitative research relating to parental experience. This article will benefit paediatric trainees, consultants and nurse practitioners in providing: (1) the background information needed for initiating a conversation with parents regarding outcome and (2) optimising their communication with parents in translating jargon, prognosis and uncertainty.

  • hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy
  • therapeutic hypothermia
  • prognosis
  • communication
  • breaking bad news

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  • Contributors PC wrote first draft and first revision following peer review. EC is senior author and revised manuscript. All authors contributed to article planning and concept and approved the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement There is no additional unpublished data from this educational manuscript.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.