Title: Fast Fact and Concept #64: Informing significant others of a patients death
Author(s): Diane Midland
This Fast Fact reviews the components of a sensitive notification when a patient dies. The physician is a key figure in the death notification process. Family and friends who are present at the time of death look to the physician for information, reassurance and direction regarding the weeks and months ahead. The lasting impression and memories that family members have regarding the manner in which they received word that their loved one died may affect the grief process and eventual integration of the loss within the survivors' world. Research has demonstrated that the skills of compassion and sensitivity can be learned and must be incorporated into the practice of all physicians.
Meeting with the Family/Significant Others
Fast Fact #76: Telephone Notification of Death: Part 1
Fast Fact #77: Telephone Notification of Death: Part 2
Schaefer, C. Quesenbery, C. P. Jr., & Wi, S. (1995). Mortality following conjugal bereavement and the effects of a shared environment, American Journal of Epidemiology, 144(12), 1142-52.
Shively, P & Midland, D.(Eds.). (1999). The art of compassionate death notification, Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation, La Crosse, WI.
Tolle, S. W., Bascom, P. B., Hickman, D.H., Benson, J.A. (1986). Communication between physician and surviving spouses following patient deaths Journal of General Internal Medicine, 1, (Sept/Oct), 309- 314.
Witter, D.M., Tolle, S.W. & Moseley, J.R. (1990). A bereavement program: good care, quality assurance, and risk management Hospital & Health Services Administration, 35(2), 263-275.
Zunin, H. S. & Zunin, L. M. (1991). The art of condolence, what to write, what to say, what to do at a time of loss, New York: Harpers Collins.
Copyright and Referencing Information: Users are free to download and distribute Fast Facts for educational purposes only. Citation for referencing. Fast Facts and Concepts #64 Death Notification. Midland D. March, 2002. End-of-Life Physician Education Resource Center www.eperc.mcw.edu.
Fast Facts and Concepts was originally developed as an end-of-life teaching tool by Eric Warm, MD, U. Cincinnati, Department of Medicine. See: Warm, E. Improving EOL care--internal medicine curriculum project. J Pall Med 1999; 2: 339-340.
Disclaimer: Fast Facts provide educational information, this information is not medical advice. Health care providers should exercise their own independent clinical judgment. Some Fast Fact information cites the use of a product in dosage, for an indication, or in a manner other than that recommended in the product labeling. Accordingly, the official prescribing information should be consulted before any such product is used.
Creation Date: 3/2002
Purpose: Instructional Aid, Teaching
|Training: Fellows, 1st/2nd Year Medical Students, 3rd/4th Year Medical Students, PGY1 (Interns), PGY2-6, Physicians in Practice|
|Specialty: Anesthesiology, Emergency Medicine, Family Medicine, General Internal Medicine, Geriatrics, Hematology/Oncology, Neurology, OB/GYN, Ophthalmology, Pulmonary/Critical Care, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Surgery|
|Non-Physician: Clergy/Chaplains, General Public, Graduate Students, Lawyers, Patients/Families, Nurses, Social Workers|
ACGME Competencies: Interpersonal and Communication Skills, Patient Care
Keyword(s): Caring for families, Death pronouncement, Post-death family care
The Fast Facts series is distributed for educational use only and does not constitute medical advice. For the most current version of Fast Facts visit the EPERC web site at www.eperc.mcw.edu. This mirror version is provided subject to copyright restrictions for educational use within the Inter-Instutional Collaborating Network on End-of-Life Care (IICN).