A Disciplined Analysis of California Post Mortem Care Policies

Wednesday, 15 July 2009: 1:45 PM

Mikel W. Hand, EdD, MSN, RN, OCN, CNA, BC
Marilyn Smith-Stoner
Nursing/College of Natural Science, California State University San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA

Learning Objective 1: Describe commonalities in postmortem care policies in California, USA acute care hospitals.

Learning Objective 2: Explore key differences in postmortem care practices in California, USA acute care hospitals.

Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study is to provide a description of the phenomenon of postmortem care derived from post-mortem care policies from hospitals throughout the state of California in order to gain an understanding of issues addressed within post mortem care policies, the scope of care prescribed, and areas of controversy.
Background: Death is one of the most significant events in the life of an individual and a family. Hospitals are a common place of death. A scarcity of literature exists on the procedure of postmortem care. It is unknown how facilities address transcultural, religious, philosophical or end-of-life patient and family centered care after death. Further inquiry is needed to build on the body of knowledge related to postmortem care and to better inform practice.

Methods: A descriptive phenomenological approach will be used. Postmortem care policies will be obtained from acute care facilities throughout California. All identifying data will be removed. 2 researchers will be involved in the analysis process. Analysis will involve independent and simultaneous activities (data dwelling and independent coding) as well as collective and collaborative activities (discussion and reflection, uncovering similar meanings, and consensus). Each policy will be analyzed independently using this process. Common themes from all available policies will be clustered, and the process will be repeated.

Results: Results are pending. Data collection will be completed in Winter of 2009 with results available in April 2009.
Conclusion: Conclusions are pending and will be available in April, 2009

Implications: Anticipated implications are the ability to obtain a rich description of the phenomenon of postmortem care in order to gain a greater understanding of commonalities and differences in practice. Future directions for research may be geared towards identification of best practices in postmortem care as well strategies to educate nursing staff and students in this process.