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Arch Dis Child. 2002 Jul;87(1):36-8.

Bereavement support following sudden and unexpected death: guidelines for care.

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  • 1Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK.


Dealing with families who have suffered a sudden and unexpected death is a skill that may be needed by any paediatrician. Offering a bereavement follow up meeting to such families is part of accepted practice and is perceived to be of value in helping the family to come to terms with the loss. Unfortunately, there is very little guidance on the objectives for such a meeting, or the training required to help staff conduct such meetings. The nature of the work on a paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) means that staff have a greater experience of handling families in such a situation. We have reviewed our experience over the past five years following up the families of 51 children who have died suddenly and unexpectedly in our regional PICU. In doing this we have identified five key elements that we suggest are essential to a successful follow up meeting, and have supported this with case studies as illustration.

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