pediatrics
October 2002, VOLUME110 /ISSUE 4

Death of a Child in the Emergency Department: Joint Statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians

  1. Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics,
  2. Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee, American College of Emergency Physicians

Abstract

Note: Please be advised that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians are in the process of independently developing technical reports on this issue that will provide more in-depth educational and clinical information for their respective members on the death of a child in the emergency department. When completed, these reports will be published separately by each organization to supplement this joint policy statement.

The death of a child in the emergency department (ED) is an event with emotional, cultural, procedural, and legal challenges that often distinguish it from other deaths.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Emergency Physicians support the following principles:

  • Emergency physicians should use a family-centered and team-oriented approach when a child dies in the ED.

  • Emergency physicians should provide personal, compassionate, and individualized support to families while respecting social, religious, and cultural diversity.

  • Emergency physicians should notify the child’s primary care physician of the death and, as appropriate, work with the primary care physician in follow-up of postmortem examination results.

  • EDs should incorporate procedures to organize resources and staff to provide a coordinated response to a child’s death. These include the following:

    • Working with the primary care physician to ensure notification of subspecialty physicians of the death of their patient.

    • Educating staff as to the resources available to assist families.

    • Facilitating identification and management of a medical examiner’s case and identification and reporting of cases of child maltreatment.

    • Promulgating liaisons with other individuals and organizations that may assist families, communities, and staff.

    • Assisting ED staff, out-of-hospital providers, and others who are experiencing critical incident stress.

    • Facilitating organ procurement and obtaining consent for postmortem examinations when appropriate.

American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine, 2001-2002

Jane F. Knapp, MD, Chairperson

Thomas Bojko, MD

Margaret A. Dolan, MD

Ronald A. Furnival, MD

Barry W. Heath, MD

Steven E. Krug, MD

Deborah Mulligan-Smith, MD

Lee Pyles, MD

Richard M. Ruddy, MD

Kathy N. Shaw, MD, MSCE

Timothy Yeh, MD

Liaisons

Cindy Doyle, BSN, MA

Maternal and Child Health Bureau

Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD

American College of Emergency Physicians

David S. Markenson, MD

National Association of EMS Physicians

Dennis W. Vane, MD

American College of Surgeons

Consultant

Jane Ball, RN, DrPH

Staff

Susan Tellez

American College of Emergency Physicians Pediatric Emergency Medicine Committee, 2001–2002

Marianne Gausche-Hill, MD, Chairperson

Frederick C. Blum, MD

Isabel A. Barata, MD

Jill M. Baren, MD

Lee S. Benjamin, MD

Kathleen Brown, MD

Randolph J. Cordle, MD

Ann M. Dietrich, MD

Ramon W. Johnson, MD

Stephen R. Knazik, DO

Sharon E. Mace, MD

Maureen D. McCollough, MD

John H. Myers, MD

Phyllis H. Stenklyft, MD

Craig R. Warden, MD, MPH

Joseph Zibulewsky, MD

Liaisons

Michael J. Gerardi, MD

AAP Section on Emergency Medicine

Jane F. Knapp, MD

AAP Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Steven E. Krug, MD

AAP Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Staff

Elaine Jastram

ED, emergency department