Title

Care for the Adult Family Members of Victims of Unexpected Cardiac Death

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

12-1-2006

Journal

Academic Emergency Medicine

Volume

13

Issue

12

DOI

10.1197/j.aem.2006.06.029

Keywords

bereavement; cardiopulmonary resuscitation practice guidelines; heart arrest; mortality grief, posttraumatic stress disorders

Abstract

More than 300,000 sudden coronary deaths occur annually in the United States, despite declining cardiovascular death rates. In 2000, deaths from heart disease left an estimated 190,156 new widows and 68,493 new widowers. A major unanswered question for emergency providers is whether the immediate care of the loved ones left behind by the deceased should be a therapeutic task for the staff of the emergency department in the aftermath of a fatal cardiac arrest. Based on a review of the literature, the authors suggest that more research is needed to answer this question, to assess the current immediate needs and care of survivors, and to find ways to improve care of the surviving family of unexpected cardiac death victims. This would include improving quality of death disclosure, improving care for relatives during cardiopulmonary resuscitation of their family member, and improved methods of referral for services for prevention of psychological and cardiovascular morbidity during bereavement. © 2006 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

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