An Evidence-Based Approach for Death Notification

Saturday, 26 July 2014: 3:50 PM

Elizabeth Roe, RN, PhD
Nursing, Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI

The very nature of suddent death is emotionally heavy and requires evidence-based caring and supportive interventions, involving an interprofessional team approach. This presentation will describe the development of an evidence-based protocol for care of survivors of individuals who have died suddenly. The responses of survivors are diverse, often unpredictable, and vary depending on how the care they receive after the death. Nurses are often the ones that care for family members following a sudden death. In this presentation, suggestions will be given regarding the care for the survivors and providers after a sudden death. The focus will be on the immediate care provided in the emergency department, but suggestions will be given for the provision of ongoing support. Research has found that how an individual reacts to a sudden death is influenced by a number of factors including the notification itself, circumstances of the death, the care they receive during and after the notification, and characteristics of the survivor and those caring for them.  It is important that the care be provided in a way that is sensitive to the survivor’s individual needs.  This presentation will make recommendations for care of individuals after a death notification based on a review of the literature from nursing, medicine, law enforcement, social work, clergy, and psychology. In this presentation, an evidence-based protocol for care of the survivor after the notification of a death will be discussed with emphasis on the role of the nurse caring for the survivors with a particular emphasis on advocacy. A case scenario will be presented for the discussion of the protocol.