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Parents' perspectives regarding a physician-parent conference after their child's death in the pediatric intensive care unit

Kathleen L Meert, Susan Eggly, Murray Pollack, K J S Anand, Jerry Zimmerman, Joseph Carcillo, Christopher J L Newth, J Michael Dean, Douglas F Willson, Carol Nicholson
Journal of Pediatrics 2007, 151 (1): 50-5, 55.e1-2

OBJECTIVE: To investigate parents' perspectives on the desirability, content, and conditions of a physician-parent conference after their child's death in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

STUDY DESIGN: Audio-recorded telephone interviews were conducted with 56 parents of 48 children. All children died in the PICU of one of six children's hospitals in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network (CPCCRN) 3 to 12 months before the study.

RESULTS: Only seven (13%) parents had a scheduled meeting with any physician to discuss their child's death; 33 (59%) wanted to meet with their child's intensive care physician. Of these, 27 (82%) were willing to return to the hospital to meet. Topics that parents wanted to discuss included the chronology of events leading to PICU admission and death, cause of death, treatment, autopsy, genetic risk, medical documents, withdrawal of life support, ways to help others, bereavement support, and what to tell family. Parents sought reassurance and the opportunity to voice complaints and express gratitude.

CONCLUSIONS: Many bereaved parents want to meet with the intensive care physician after their child's death. Parents seek to gain information and emotional support, and to give feedback about their PICU experience.


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